Proposed Methane Rules A “Regulatory Sleight of Hand”

Yesterday, in response to the EPA's proposed standards for methane and VOCs, Competitive Enterprise Institute's William Yeatman said:

"Through a regulatory sleight of hand, the Obama administration has achieved another power grab. While much attention is being given to EPA’s new source standards, the agency has in fact snuck in through the backdoor a suite of greenhouse gas standards for existing oil and natural gas production, transportation, and storage. To be precise, the agency proposed “reasonably available control technology” standards for methane and VOCs from stationary sources that are located in areas that fail to achieve national standards for ozone. The rules are non-binding in name only; if a state fails to follow them, and EPA objects, then that State is almost certain to lose, whether the challenge is remedies administratively or in court.

Here’s the catch: The Obama administration this fall is expected to promulgate a draconian ozone standard that would subject virtually the whole country to “nonattainment” regulations like the Draft Control Techniques Guidelines that EPA proposed today. The upshot is that today’s proposed rules will function as de facto nation-wide greenhouse gas standards for existing oil and gas sector, if the agency follows through on its ozone proposal.

It would seem that the agency is trying to hide its actions in a fog of regulatory complexity, which is a poor public policy practice, but par for the course at the EPA."

For more on this topic, see William Yeatman’s previous writing here: