An information collection request (ICR) sent by the Obama EPA, which sought data on methane emissions from existing oil and gas (O&G) facilities, has been withdrawn by Administrator Scott Pruitt. In a brief notice, Pruitt says the ICR is being withdrawn because the “EPA would like to assess the need for the information the Agency was collecting through these requests and reduce burdens on businesses while the Agency assesses such need.”
Sent out in November 2016 to over 15,000 owners of existing O&G facilities, the ICR was a significant element in the Obama administration’s strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), in general and specifically from the O&G sector. The ICR required extensive information in two parts:
- Part 1 was an operator survey distributed industrywide. According to the Agency, Part 1 was designed to obtain readily available information on the number and types of equipment at all onshore O&G production facilities in the United States. Operators had 60 days to return the completed survey to the EPA.
- Part 2 was a facility survey intended to collect detailed information on emissions sources and emissions control devices or practices in use at facilities in the onshore production, gathering and boosting, processing, compression/transmission, pipeline, natural gas storage, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and import/export facilities. The Part 2 survey was sent to 4,650 owners/operators. The EPA said it expected that much of the information requested in the facility survey is readily available from company records. “However, owners/operators will have to collect some information—such as counts of pneumatic devices,” the Agency added. “The more detailed survey will be sent to a representative sample of facilities rather than industry wide to reduce the burden to the industry.” Part 2 needed to be returned to the EPA within 180 days of receipt.
$37 Million Cost
The O&G sector generally opposed the ICR, primarily because of the burden of completing the surveys and particularly the Part 2 facility survey. The Agency estimated the total cost of complying with the ICR at $37 million—$16 million to respond to the operator survey, or about $1,100 per operator, and $21 million to respond to the facility survey, or about $5,600 per facility.
Pruitt said the withdrawal also responded to a March 1 request from nine state attorneys general (AGs).
“This information request furthers the previous administration’s climate agenda and supports the next and most onerous phase of the Obama Administration’s regulations targeting the oil and gas industry—the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous,” wrote the AGs. “The burden of the Request is disproportionate to its benefit. We believe the EPA’s requests to be an unnecessary and onerous burden on oil and gas producers that is more harassment than a genuine search for pertinent and appropriate information.”
In the notice, Pruitt says the EPA takes these concerns seriously and is committed to strengthening its partnership with the states.
As a result of the notice, no owner or operator—including those who received an extension of their due dates for providing the information—is required to respond to the ICR.
Pruitt’s notice is here.