FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Kristina Baum - (202) 224-6176

January 14, 2015                                               Donelle Harder - (202) 224-1282

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, released a statement today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announced plans to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production: 

“The EPA has once again announced plans to impose a mandate designed to stifle our domestic energy industries despite the successful voluntary steps made by U.S. oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions,” Inhofe said.  "This EPA mandate from the Obama Administration will not only increase the cost to do business in America, but it will ultimately limit our nation’s ability to become fully energy independent. This will impact everyday Americans, from the cost to heat their homes to the reliability of consistent electricity to keep the family business competitively operating. Furthermore, the announcement made today does not provide sufficient benefits to justify the cost, given methane emissions are substantially lower than what EPA has previously suggested. The Obama Administration is unwilling to streamline existing regulatory hurdles on pipeline infrastructure as a means to reduce emissions, and instead is expanding its inefficient and complicated bureaucracy.  With my colleagues, I will work towards limiting the red tape on our energy infrastructure and work towards common-sense solutions that allow America to responsibly develop and consume our natural resources.” 

The EPA’s own numbers on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry have been steadily dropping for a number of years.  According to EPA data, methane emissions have declined 73 percent from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells since 2011.  Based on a recent study conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Texas-Austin, a majority of hydraulically fractured wells were found to have equipment in place which reduced methane emissions by 99 percent resulting in methane emissions from well completions being 97 percent lower than EPA’s 2011 national estimates.  The EDF/UTA study suggested a leakage rate of about 1.5 percent which is far lower than estimates by many in the environmental community. In 2012, the EPA issued final air rules on the oil and gas sector mandating the use of “green completions” to reduce air emissions including methane which has yet to be fully implemented.  EPA’s air rules were ultimately couched as thinly veiled methane emissions as the EPA itself said the final air rules would reduce hazardous air pollutants by 11,000 tons and result in 1 million tons of methane reductions.

On Sept. 3, 2014, Inhofe sent a letter to the Administration in response to the EPA’s white papers released on the oil and natural gas sector as part of the Administration’s methane strategy. In the letter, Inhofe requested the Administration to consider five steps to take before continuing its methane strategy.