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Kyle Isakower holds press briefing on EPA's GHG inventory

Press briefing on EPA methane figures
Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining our call.

I want to outline our concerns with EPA’s revised methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions, which the agency released last Friday.

While we’re still reviewing the latest figures and methodology, it’s clear that EPA’s report is fundamentally flawed. We’re concerned the administration is putting politics ahead of science by turning the numbers on their head. It is a major shift from the prior models.

EPA’s inventory has consistently shown a downward trend in emissions even as oil and natural gas production has soared. Last year’s inventory showed that methane emissions from natural gas systems dropped 11 percent since 2005. Somehow, in this year’s inventory, using a flawed new methodology, EPA has erased that progress from its historic data. The new calculation shows just a 0.68 percent decline since 2005. While this is still a reduction at a time of record natural gas production, this is way off from what prior inventories revealed.

This dramatic change should raise eyebrows!

And it goes against leading science that shows fossil fuel methane emissions are not increasing even as U.S. energy production has risen dramatically in the last decade.

Specifically, according to a study initiated by NOAA and other scientists around the world, fossil fuel production is not causing the rise of methane levels in the atmosphere since 2007. The study says increased emissions are coming from other sources.

It is due to innovations by the oil and natural gas industry that we have achieved this great progress in reducing emissions. We are spending more than ever on reducing emissions, including the green completions the industry invented to capture methane emissions. EPA now requires these completions for all new wells.

…. And, Since 2000, U.S. oil and natural gas industry’s investments in zero- and low-carbon technologies have totaled $90 billion, more than twice the next largest industry sector (at $38 billion) and almost as much as the federal government (at $110 billion).

EPA’s prior estimates reflect these investments and the industry’s leadership in reducing methane and other emissions. It doesn’t make sense that all of a sudden those reductions would stop! Yet, that’s what EPA’s new figures suggest. We think these new figures are off, and are not an accurate reflection of science or reality.

Without justification, EPA assumed that operations at large wells may be extrapolated to those at smaller wells. That isn’t an accurate way to calculate emissions.

Let me point out that producers have every incentive to capture and sell methane, and we will continue to make substantial progress to reduce emissions voluntarily and under existing EPA regulations.

Rather than acknowledging this success and working to ensure market-driven environmental progress continues, this administration is pushing for new government policies that ignore market-based solutions in favor of duplicative regulations that threaten to undermine not only our economy but our success in reducing emissions.

Specifically, new regulations on methane being considered by EPA and BLM could actually harm our progress reducing emissions by stifling innovation and discouraging production of clean-burning natural gas.

The better solution is to look to what is already working. Safe and responsible development of energy from shale has helped America become the world leader in reducing emissions, with carbon dioxide emissions down to near 20-year lows.

Record high production of natural gas has been integral to cutting carbon. Increased use of the clean-burning fuel accounts for the majority of the reduction in emissions from power generation.

Imposing new regulations could raise costs and discourage the very natural gas production that has lowered carbon emissions to levels not seen since the ‘90s. Also at risk are the economic benefits low-cost energy is bringing American businesses and families. U.S. household disposable income is up $1200 per year, and costs for U.S. manufacturers are now 10 to 20 percent lower than those of European competitors.

Who loses with these regulations? The American people do.

The free market in America is producing more energy while improving our environment and investing in lower carbon technologies. We call it the U.S. model, and it’s a model that works. This model encompasses free market solutions, technological innovation, and private investment that have helped the United States lead the world in production of energy and reduced emissions. Our energy abundance and production has also reduced America’s dependence on energy from less stable countries in the world.

The administration should allow the private sector to continue to innovate and deliver more natural gas to customers. They should avoid unnecessary and duplicative regulations that put our shale energy revolution – and our emissions progress – at risk.

We’re calling on the administration to reconsider its flawed emissions estimates. We’re calling on the administration to put science ahead of politics. We’re calling on the administration to embrace our proven U.S. model to reduce emissions while helping boost our economy. We’re calling on the administration to put the interests of consumers first.

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

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