EPA imposes 90-day stay on methane rule

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has instituted a 90-day stay on Obama-era limits on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling sites, allowing the fossil fuels industry to submit another round of comments before the rule goes into effect.
  • In rolling out the rule last year, EPA estimated it would help eliminate the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Oil and gas producers, however, argued it was duplicative, unnecessary and would stifle growth.
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt approved the 90-day delay last week; compliance on the methane rules was set to begin June 3. The hold follows several other moves from the Trump administration to roll back energy rules.

Dive Insight:

The White House is continuing to hold, halt and review energy rules and limits put in place by President Obama, with methane restrictions and oil and gas drilling sites the latest on the chopping block.

EPA issued a statement that using its Clean Air Act authority to issue a 90-day stay of the fugitive emissions, pneumatic pumps, and professional engineer certification requirements from the 2016 rule. While the rules have already been through a comment period, EPA's announcement said the delay "ensures that businesses have an opportunity to review these requirements, assess economic impacts and report back to the agency."

The methane rules were part of the Obama administration's efforts to cut methane emissions 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

In its assessment of the rule, EPA estimated the rules will reduce methane emissions by 510,000 short tons in 2025, the equivalent of reducing 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The agency estimated the cost of compliance will range $420 million to about $530 million in 2025, but also said the rule would yield climate benefits of $690 million, resulting in a $160 million net benefit.

But the Trump Administration continues to undo key Obama-era energy and environmental restrictions: Among those include rules governing toxic discharge from coal plant rules, the Clean Power Plan and clean water rules.

A final decision on whether to exit the United National Paris climate accord is expected at 3 p.m. today. Media reports say President Trump is expected to withdraw from the international deal, which aims to limit global average temperature change to 2°C this century. For the United States, that translates into a roughly 80% economywide decarbonization goal by 2050.

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