On November 25, 2019, Emmett Institute faculty members Sean Hecht and Harjot Kaur submitted a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the Proposed Policy Amendments 2012 and 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry (the "Proposed Rule").
The authors oppose EPA's efforts, in the Proposed Rule, to significantly narrow the reach of the Clean Air Act's ability to regulate key pollutants from stationary sources in the oil and natural gas industry. If finalized, this Proposed Rule would revoke EPA’s ability to regulate the transmission and storage of oil and natural gas, as well as remove methane regulations for oil and natural gas producers and processers. This Proposed Rule also seeks to rescind regulations on emissions of volatile organic compounds, including methane, for existing sources, without providing either sound legal or factual support for its decision.
The authors argue that EPA proposes a wide range of policy and procedural changes and new legal interpretations in this Proposed Rule, but the common thread through all the facets of this proposal is the rollback of methane regulations that apply to the oil and natural gas industry. This suggests that EPA’s objective in this proposal is to eliminate methane control obligations from businesses within the oil and natural gas industry, despite the importance of limiting methane emissions to minimize their harmful impacts on human health and the climate. EPA’s proposed actions are contradictory, and its conflicting rationales—together with evidence highlighted by other commenters—point to the conclusion that those rationales may be pretextual.