Western Energy Alliance Reacts to Pres. Obama’s Announcement on Methane Emissions from Existing Wells

March 10, 2016

DENVER - Western Energy Alliance released the following statement on President Obama’s announcement today to impose methane reductions on existing oil and natural gas wells.

“President Obama’s announcement of further punitive measures on the oil and natural gas industry, which has already voluntarily decreased methane emissions by 21 percent even as natural gas production has soared 47 percent, continues policies that are counterproductive to his stated climate change goals,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs. “Contrary to the perception created by misleading statements from EPA and the environmental lobby, the oil and natural gas is not the largest human source of methane emissions, but we’re the only one that captures methane in significant quantities and puts it to beneficial use.

“Our industry has delivered 59 percent more climate change benefits, through increased natural gas electricity generation, than wind and solar combined. The small amount of methane emissions from the upstream oil and natural gas sector is just 1.07 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, yet the administration continues to blindly pile on regulation after regulation without even letting the emissions reductions it has already imposed take effect. All these costly regulations make developing American oil and natural gas more costly while giving an advantage to producers in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“What’s particularly interesting about today’s announcement is that the president has gone even farther with his ‘pen and phone.’ Knowing there’s not time in his last term to get through the regulatory process required by law, he’s directing EPA to engage in regulation by enforcement. EPA will use Clean Air Act Section 114 enforcement requests to tie companies in knots with highly detailed and extremely time consuming requests for information and then threaten huge fines if they don’t change practices, even if they’re operating according to existing regulations. Apparently, laws don’t matter to the president when he’s targeting an industry he doesn’t like.

“Controls on existing wells, especially with current low natural gas prices, will cause thousands of low-volume wells to become too expensive to operate and they will be plugged and abandoned. Twenty percent of domestic production comes from approximately 771,000 marginal wells. That’s a huge source of domestic energy that is at risk from the president’s latest plans,” concluded Sgamma.

Additional background information about reduction in methane emissions from industry innovations is available online.

# # #