Ranking Member Grijalva, Rep. Lowenthal Push EPA Head to Reverse Industry Favor, Get Answers on U.S. Methane Emissions

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to reissue an Obama-era information request to the oil and gas industry on methane emissions from production operations – a request Pruitt recently canceled one day after receiving a request to do so as a favor to the industry, despite its importance to climate and air quality.

As the letter, available at http://bit.ly/2neChMy, points out, oil and gas facilities are the top industrial source of methane emissions across the country. Industry spokespeople and their Republican allies have argued that overall methane emissions have gone down industry-wide over the past several years, making regulations, or even a simple request for information, about emissions from production activities unnecessary. This ignores the fact that methane emissions from oil and gas production specifically have gone up 48 percent over the past 24 years.

“Withdrawing this common-sense and inexpensive data-gathering exercise at the behest of a few states simply because it takes climate change seriously is irresponsible and counterproductive,” the lawmakers write.

“This administration is giving away our public resources even faster than I thought possible and with even less regard for the consequences than I expected,” Grijalva said today. “Apparently we can’t ask the oil and gas industry how much methane it’s pumping into the air and where it’s happening because that might generate answers that lead to better policy. This administration has already been captured by polluting industries, and Republicans in Congress are happy to play along every step of the way.”

“Just days after President Trump promised Congress he would ‘promote clean air and clear water,’ his EPA Director Scott Pruitt withdrew the Obama-era request, despite the fact that this information would have helped the EPA identify where and how to help oil and gas operators reduce methane emissions,” Lowenthal said today. “This is not good for Americans. This is not good for the environment. This is only good for the oil and gas companies. The Pruitt-led EPA is already shirking its responsibility to protect our air. Pruitt is also making clear that his priorities align with oil and gas companies over the well-being of American citizens.”

Pruitt’s cancellation of the information request came soon after the House passed a resolution on Feb. 3 through the Congressional Review Act to wipe out the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule. That rule, as Grijalva documented at the timewould save up to 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, enough to supply up to 740,000 households; bring in up to $14 million in additional royalties to states and the federal treasury annually; and reduce methane pollution by 175,000 to 180,000 tons each year, equivalent to the emissions of nearly 1 million vehicles.

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