Oil lobby: New methane rules threaten boom

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The nation’s oil lobby fears that President Obama’s new push to regulate methane emissions could threaten the oil and natural gas boom of recent years.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) slammed the Thursday morning announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would seek to slash methane emissions from existing oil and gas wells as “catering to environmental extremists at the expense of American consumers.”

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It’s the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration to crack down on methane, which has global warming power about 25 times that of carbon dioxide.

The EPA said it realized it needed to go further than last year’s proposal to only regulate newly drilled wells.

“We’ll be bringing the same urgency to this task as we have to all our methane work over the last four years,” EPA head Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyHow Congress got to yes on toxic chemical reform Overnight Energy: Labor rift opens over green mega-donor GOP: EPA is violating court hold on climate rule MORE said.

“I’m confident the end result of this effort will be a common-sense, reasonable standard to reduce methane emissions that are contributing to climate change,” she added, pledging to work closely with stakeholders like the industry in developing the rules.

The United States rolled out the announcement in partnership with Canada, which said it will take similar steps.

But the oil industry said that’s expensive and unnecessary, and warned that it threatens the oil and gas boom that has created thousands of jobs and reduced energy prices.

“Additional regulations on methane by the administration could discourage the shale energy revolution that has helped America lead the world in reducing emissions while significantly lowering the costs of energy to consumers,” said Kyle Isakower, the API’s vice president for regulations.

“We need to make sure that new regulations are necessary, not duplicative, and that they are based on sound science,” he said.

Isakower said the industry is not ruling out a possible lawsuit against the rules when they are eventually developed.

“We would have to take a look at this rule; it’s far too early to say that,” Isakower said of litigation options. “We’re going to leave all our options on the table.”

The group also took issue with the EPA’s finding that methane emissions from the industry are much higher than previously estimated.

Isakower said the revised numbers are “misleading,” and said McCarthy admitted that they “do not necessarily indicate that emissions have risen.”