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EPA’s new methane rules add ‘heavy-handed federal layer’ for Wyoming businesses, Gordon says

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(The Center Square) – Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon took aim this week at new federal methane regulations he argues will hurt producers and consumers in the state.

The Biden administration released the new methane rules during the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai over the weekend.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the new regulations “will sharply reduce emissions of methane and other harmful air pollution from oil and natural gas operations — including, for the first time, from existing sources nationwide.”

Gordon criticized the agency for its lack of communication with state agencies.

“From the outset of the proposed rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did little to meaningfully consult with the state environmental agencies who actually regulate the oil and gas industry,” the governor said in a statement. “Ideally, states with air primacy like Wyoming are active participants in rulemaking. That is more than just providing comments.”

Groups like the Environmental Defense Fund applauded the Biden administration for finalizing “tougher clear air standards” and establishing what the EDF considers “productive limits on methane pollution from both new and existing oil and gas sources.” As a result, the EDF says this will drastically cut down on “climate-damaging methane” and other pollution from oil and gas development.

“As the world gathers to tackle the climate crisis, the U.S. now has the most protective methane pollution limits on the books,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “EPA’s limits on oil and gas methane pollution are a vital win for the climate and public health, dramatically reducing warming pollution and providing vital clean air protections to millions of Americans.”

Pointing to other countries’ views that methane is a concern for the climate, Krupp called the agency’s move a signal that it is time for operators to clean-up.

“EPA has shown tremendous leadership in establishing these leading clean air standards and we look forward to working with states and EPA to move quickly on implementation,” said Krupp. “The communities who fought long and hard for these protections now need to begin to reap their benefits.”

Gordon argues the regulations will do more harm than good.

“A majority of Wyoming oil and gas producers are not multinational corporations and work closely with regulators to produce oil and gas while controlling emissions,” the governor said. “In the rule, the EPA adds a heavy-handed federal layer with marginal environmental benefits compared to the increased costs.”

Overall, Gordon said methane emissions in his state are “low and companies continue to find ways to reduce emissions” without this near 1700-page rule from EPA.

“Wyoming, in fact, preceded the federal government in regulating oil and gas emissions by nearly three decades while successfully allowing for responsible oil and gas development,” he said. “The additional costs of implementation will be passed on to consumers, both inside and outside of Wyoming. DC is attempting to fix a problem that is already being addressed.”

The Western Energy Alliance, which is headquartered in Colorado, is also concerned about the regulations. The energy industry group said the administration should be touting the fact that the U.S. leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, due in part to increased use of natural gas to generate electricity.

The group’s president, Kathleen Sgamma, said the Biden administration is “choosing to overregulate an industry that has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than wind and solar combined.”

“The oil and natural gas industry has a four-decade record of success reducing methane emissions,” said Sgamma. “Since 2005, the industry has reduced methane emissions 13 percent even as oil and natural gas production have gone up 53 percent and 101 percent, respectively.”

Sgamma added that natural gas has “achieved 58 percent of power sector emissions reductions, compared to only 42 percent from wind and solar energy.”

Like Gordon, Sgamma said these regulations will harm producers and consumers.

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