Inhofe blasts EPA plan to regulate methane emissions

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using “outdated” data when proposing emission caps on the oil and natural gas sectors.

Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning the methods used to write “white papers” that justify the Obama administration’s energy regulations.

{mosads}“I have serious concerns with these White Papers,” Inhofe wrote in the letter sent Wednesday. “I urge the EPA to gather more information, revise the White Papers, and allow an official, robust comment period prior to engaging in any policymaking discussion that could impact the oil and natural gas industry.”

EPA press secretary Liz Purchia said the administration uses white papers to solicit feedback from the public and experts. She also said the EPA would be releasing its strategy on methane this fall.

“It’s important to remember, the less methane that gets away, the more profitable industry will be and the better it is for our families’ health; and we all need to do something about it if we want to get serious about climate change,” Purchia said. “The technology is there and we have the skills, brain power and tools to figure it out, we just need to commit to get leaks out of system and capture them to deliver the benefits to consumers.” 

Inhofe has been an ardent critic of EPA efforts to reduce green house gases, which has contributed to global climate change. Inhofe has said climate change is a “hoax” despite most scientists disagreeing with him.

“There are critics throwing around lofty doomsday scenarios if we act on climate, but for decades when science pointed us to health risks, we acted responsibly and the economy continued to grow,” Purchia said. “We may not always agree on the details of how we cut pollution and fight climate change.  But we can all agree on why—because we have a clear, moral obligation to our families and our children, to give them world that’s safe, healthy, and full of opportunity.”

Inhofe said the EPA is trying to use faulty information to justify methane emissions regulations on oil and gas companies, saying the mandates will actually make the sectors more profitable. He also said the EPA’s definition of a methane “leak” is unclear.

“First, the White Papers demonstrate that EPA lacks a fundamental understanding of the industry’s practices and inner workings. They also reveal that EPA believes it has the capacity to actually help oil and natural gas companies operate more efficiently and profitably by mandating more guidelines and regulations; no regulatory body should have this perspective,” the letter stated. “Further, the White Papers are handicapped by inaccurate and outdated data estimates of industry-wide emissions.”

Inhofe suggested that the administration start over and first conduct roundtable discussions with industry representatives and local officials to find out what’s already being done before continuing with its own methane strategy. He pointed out that some in the industry have voluntarily reduced methane leaks without federal mandates because methane is a valuable part of natural gas.  

— This article was updated at 6:15 p.m.

Tags Jim Inhofe Methane United States Environmental Protection Agency

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