The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer require oil and gas companies to report information related to their methane emissions, according to a new directive issued March 2.
In a press release, the agency announced that, effective immediately, an Obama-era information collection request has been cancelled.
The original request, sent to companies in November 2016, required oil and gas producers to provide a broad range of information about their methane emissions and equipment, as well as the feasibility of controls designed to limit methane release.
That information was being collected as part of a long-term project to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas production, an initiative that grew out of an agreement between Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, gets released during the extraction process for oil and natural gas. In fact, the sector is the largest industrial emitter of methane.
While the gas accounts for a small portion of overall greenhouse gas emissions and doesn't stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it traps thirty times more heat per ton than carbon dioxide does. Climate scientists are still working to understand how methane emissions fit into the overall climate change puzzle.
In the EPA's press release, the agency explained its decision to end its information-gathering initiative, writing:
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would like to assess the need for the information that the agency was collecting through these requests. This action also comes after the agency received a letter on March 1, 2017, from nine state Attorneys General and the Governors of Mississippi and Kentucky, expressing concern with the pending Information Collection Request for Oil and Gas Facilities.
“By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt. “Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry.”
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