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Howard feldman's remarks at press call on API's methane rule comments

Press call on methane comments

Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs

Friday, December 4, 2015

Opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thank you for joining our call today.

I will provide a preview of API comments on EPA’s proposed methane rules for oil and natural gas production, which will be filed later today.

In short, EPA’s proposal for additional methane regulations on oil and gas wells and transmission are duplicative and costly.  They could also undermine the progress our industry has made lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

The fact is that America is already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies.

It’s important to keep in mind that methane is the primary component of natural gas, so producers want to capture and sell more of it rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere. 

Emissions will continue to fall as operators innovate and find new ways to capture and deliver more methane to consumers to heat homes and generate clean-burning electricity.

These voluntary efforts are the best way to reduce methane emissions from existing sources, and they are already working.

EPA’s latest greenhouse gas inventory reported that methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are down 79 percent since 2005. Total methane emissions from natural gas systems are down 11 percent since 2005, a direct result of industry innovation. And this is all while natural gas production has soared to record highs.

But new regulations are more than unnecessary; they are potentially harmful to our overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Safe and responsible development of energy from shale has helped the U.S. cut CO2 emissions to near 20-year lows.

Additional regulations on methane by EPA and other agencies could discourage hydraulic fracturing and the shale energy revolution that has helped America lead the world in reducing emissions. 

Onerous and unnecessary new regulations could have a chilling effect on the American energy renaissance, our economy, and our incredible progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We’re also concerned that, in order to justify this rule, EPA has applied a social cost of methane estimate that is highly speculative and not sufficiently peer-reviewed.

The American Council for Capital Formation funded an independent review by NERA Economic Consulting that found inconsistencies and other issues with calculations the administration used to generate the social cost of methane. 

NERA’s review found that the benefits provided by the rule, after compensating for flaws in EPA’s calculation, could be as much as 94 percent lower than what EPA projects.

Furthermore, when combined with the revised cost estimates and reduced emission benefits found in a separate study, the rule could result in net costs to society of more than $1 billion dollars in 2025.

To conclude, the oil and gas industry is already leading the charge in reducing methane.

The last thing we need is more duplicative and costly regulation that could increase the cost of energy for Americans and that could potentially drive up U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Thank you, and now I’ll be happy to take any questions you have.