The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday took a new step in enacting President Trump's executive order to roll back Obama-era energy regulations by granting industry petitions to reconsider methane emission rules for fracking.
"EPA is continuing to follow through with President Trump's Energy Independence Executive Order," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized."
Pruitt announced that the agency is halting the effective date of the new source performance standard for methane. It also will open a new period so the energy industry and other interested groups can comment on the rule.
The EPA sent a two-page letter to industry groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, that formally requested that the rule be reconsidered by the administration. The industry has argued that the regulations are duplicative and not necessary, given the industry's own standards for eliminating methane releases as a good business practice
The letter, signed by Pruitt, said that the industry raised at least one objection on the emission reporting requirements, while stating that a number of unanswered questions still remain regarding how the rules would actually work. Businesses also had complained that they did not have enough time to comment on some of the provisions. Those are all grounds for reconsidering the regulation under the Clean Air Act, the letter said.
The rule will be halted for 90 days after the June 3 effective date for the industry to comply with the standards.
A number of states attorneys general had sued the EPA over the regulations after they were finalized in May. Pruitt was included as a petitioner in the lawsuit as the former attorney general of Oklahoma.
The regulations are part of former President Barack Obama's climate change agenda. Methane is considered a greenhouse gas emission that is short-lived but 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is a principal component of natural gas. Many scientists blame greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels for driving manmade climate change.