The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn its request that oil and gas owners and operators provide additional information on existing equipment and methane emissions, reversing a policy that was enacted under the Obama administration.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would reassess the need for the information being collected through the information collection requests (ICR). He added that the action was being taken after EPA received a letter from nine state attorneys general and the governors of Kentucky and Mississippi, expressing concern over the ICRs.
"By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states," Pruitt said. "Today's action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry."
The withdrawal took immediate effect, meaning the industry is no longer required to respond. EPA added that under the previous administration, it had sent out more than 15,000 letters.
Last November, EPA issued a final ICR designed to obtain information and help the agency determine the best method for reducing methane and other emissions from existing oil and gas infrastructure. The final ICR was developed after the agencyunveiled draft versions in May and August of last year.
The GPA Midstream Association, which had opposed the ICRs, applauded the move.
"GPA, along with other groups, is involved in litigation on the legality of the new source rule on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and believes that EPA should not take any action on existing sources of methane emissions until the new source rule litigation is resolved," said GPA Midstream Vice President of Government Affairs Matthew Hite. "We are thrilled and very appreciative of EPA withdrawing this costly and burdensome requirement from our members."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he is "pleased that the EPA has responded to our request and withdrawn its burdensome and unlawful information demand to oil and gas producers across the country.
"We applaud Administrator Pruitt for his adherence to the rule of law as he pursues the balance Congress has struck between preserving our environment and allowing our economy to grow."