The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced late yesterday afternoon that it was withdrawing its request that owners and operators in the oil and natural gas industry provide information on equipment and emissions at existing oil and gas operations. The posting to the USEPA website and additional links to the Federal Register posting can be found here.
Commonly referred to as an Information Collection Request (ICR), such a request is often a precursor to additional rule-making which would have in this case likely focused on older existing oil and gas sites. With its immediate withdrawal, owners and operators who received the ICR and who also received extensions from the initial deadlines to respond will no longer be required to submit responses.
This reassessment of the need for the ICR comes on the heels of a letter presented to the agency by nine state Attorneys General questioning the need and purpose of the ICR and the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as USEPA’s new Administrator who has expressed a need for a more cooperative partnership between USEPA and the states.
He stated, "By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states. Today's action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry."
Late last year, USEPA had delivered the ICR to over 15,000 oil and gas operators. The ICR included both an operator survey that attempted to elicit information on the numbers and types of equipment at existing onshore oil and gas facilities and a follow-up and more comprehensive facility survey which requested more detailed information specifically addressing methane emissions and emission control devices or practices.