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Heitkamp: EPA methane rules harmful to Bakken, industry

Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new standards that would cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40 to 45 percent by 2025.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said, “Energy production and clean air through reduced greenhouse gas emissions are not competing ideals, and efforts to reduce emissions don’t have to hurt our energy industry,” reports the Bakken Magazine.

The EPA commented on the new standards, saying it was the latest efforts made by the Obama administration to fight against climate change and to protect public health. The American Petroleum Institute, however, called the proposal redundant and costly, saying the regulations would “undermine America’s competitiveness.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the standards are meant to bolster responsible energy development, transparency and accountability. As reported by the Bakken Magazine, McCarthy said, “Cleaner-burning energy sources like natural gas are key compliance options for our Clean Power Plan and we are committed to ensuring safe and responsible production that supports a robust, clean energy economy.”

In a statement, API President Jack Gerard said, “The oil and gas industry is leading the charge in reducing methane. Even as oil and natural gas production has surged, methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have fallen nearly 79 percent since 2005, and CO2 emissions are down to 27-year lows. This is due to industry leadership and significant investment in new technologies.”

In response to the proposed standards, Heitkamp said she will pressure the Obama administration to support bipartisan and “commonsense solutions” which would offer greater reductions of methane emissions. She said, “We can work to reduce methane emissions – and we can do it better by working together toward an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports our mutual goals of energy independence and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” Heitkamp supports methods that would hasten the permit approval process for gas-gathering and pipeline projects as a means to reduce flaring.

The API asserts that even the EPA’s analysis of methane emitted from hydraulically fractured gas well operations shows significant reductions in recent years. Heitkamp said, “Already oil and gas producers in North Dakota and across the country have drastically reduced their methane emissions voluntarily. Adding potentially costly regulations at a time when the oil and gas industry has already been hit hard by the lower cost of oil around the world could have a dire impact on the jobs that depends on it.”

The EPA will take comments on the proposed rules for 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. The agency will also hold public hearings, the details of which will be announced soon.

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