Western and national oil and gas industry groups today told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that revisions to the agency’s methane rule were “on the right track” while touting industry’s success at cutting emissions significantly.

“EPA is on the right track in revising OOOOa, as the changes proposed are designed to fix many of the technical issues with the rule, but more importantly there is a recognition of the role of the oil and natural gas industry as the number one reason the United States has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country,” said Stuart Siffring, regulatory analyst with Western Energy Alliance told EPA at the hearing in Denver today.

Western Wire is a project of Western Energy Alliance.

Those comments came at EPA’s Region 8 headquarters Wednesday in Denver at a hearing on the agency’s proposed rule “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration.”

“[O]ur objective has remained the identification of cost-effective emission control requirements that reduce VOC [volatile organic compound] emissions for new and modified sources and, as a co-benefit, also reduce methane. This approach, when combined with the leadership the industry has demonstrated to voluntarily reduce emissions from existing sources, has already proven effective,” Matthew Todd, Senior Policy Advisor with the American Petroleum Industry, told EPA.

He noted that while oil and natural gas production has skyrocketed in recent years, “methane emissions have declined significantly.” That includes methane emissions from hydraulically-fractured natural gas wells that has declined 85 percent since a 1990 baseline.

Todd also pointed to some challenges with the rule.

“Unfortunately, the proposed rule includes several missed opportunities. There are significant capital investments and scientific studies underway to advance the development and use of new emission detection technologies,” “The agency’s insistence on requiring site-specific approval for each new technology will only stifle this positive development. We hope the EPA significantly streamlines this process in the final rule. The rule also fails to reduce the burden of overlapping regulatory requirements that have no environmental benefit,” he said.

According to EPA, the rule will “significantly reduce regulatory burden, saving the industry tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs each year” which they estimated at $484 million in regulatory costs between 2019 and 2025.

Meanwhile, environmental groups from across the country attempted to seize on the hearing, with a coordinated strategy to inundate the hearing with comments. The coalition turned out activists from across the country, including Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington D.C.

Kate Hudson, Western US Advocacy Coordinator with the Water Keeper Alliance, told Western Wire, “There was a coalition, a line, a number of various areas of focus: Native American, faith-based, to try and bring different voices of different communities to this hearing so that EPA could be able connect with those communities and so that’s why I am here. I connected with the methane coalition online and they told me about the hearing.”

When asked about the actual coalition, Hudson told Western Wire, “It’s a list serve. It’s the methane coalition. But it’s a list serve. Trust me it’s not a 501c3.”

During a lunch break, the unidentified group handed out a “media availability”, with groups including, Waterkeeper Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Task Force, Moms Clean Air Force, Earthjustice, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, and As You Sow available for comment.