Energy & Environment

Oil industry group asks Trump administration to lessen regulations amid coronavirus


An oil and gas industry group is asking the Trump administration to ease certain regulations it faces so that it can better distribute fuel amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

American Petroleum Institute (API) executives wrote to both President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking that they temporarily waive “non-essential compliance obligations” such as record-keeping, training and other non-safety requirements. 

“The oil and natural gas industry needs to maintain safe and reliable operations, taking into consideration that there may be limited personnel capacity to manage the full scope of the current regulatory requirements,” API President Mike Sommers wrote in the letter to Trump on Friday. 

His request comes as Congress weighs whether to provide financial assistance to the oil industry. The Energy Department has requested $3 billion to purchase crude for storage in the strategic petroleum reserve.

The industry has been hit by sinking prices relating to a decrease in demand and an increase in production by Saudi Arabia. 

Environmental groups, however, have expressed strong opposition to congressional assistance for fossil fuel companies. They have said that assistance should instead go to clean energy producers. 

Sommers’s request for regulatory relief to the White House says the industry could benefit from waiving requirements in the departments of Transportation, the Interior, Homeland Security and State, as well as the EPA. 

Meanwhile, a letter from API’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, Frank Macchiarola, to the EPA laid out more specific requests from the group. 

He asked the agency to delay requirements for greenhouse gas reporting, provide flexibility on monitoring sampling and analysis required for drinking water permits and add certain delays or deferrals to pollution monitoring. 

Macchiarola also asked for deferred monitoring and delayed reporting of detection and repair for certain leaks. 

Green groups pushed back on API’s requests. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a tweet that “we can’t use one crisis like #coronavirus to make another crisis like climate change worse.”

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump oil and natural gas oil industry

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