- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday reversed an Obama-era plan to collect massive amounts of data from oil-and-gas companies — information that ultimately would’ve been used as the basis for new federal regulations on methane.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the requests made by the prior administration constituted unnecessary burdens on the energy industry. His action also seems to signal that the EPA will not pursue any new methane regulations anytime in the foreseeable future.

“By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states,” he said in a statement. “Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry.”

The move comes after a letter to Mr. Pruitt Wednesday from 11 Republican-led states calling on the EPA to rescind the information request.

Specifically, the Obama administration had sent letters to thousands of owners and operators across the oil-and-gas sector. Those operators were told to provide a wealth of information to the federal government, including details on the types of equipment they were using on site, and additional questions about methane emissions and efforts to control those emissions.

Both parts of the request are no longer in effect, the EPA said.

In its letter earlier in the week, the 11-state coalition said the information-gathering effort constituted “harassment” of oil-and-gas companies in an effort to impose additional regulations.

“The EPA’s request, directed only to oil and gas producers, is clearly more harassment than an actual search for pertinent information. We sincerely hope that the era of regulatory harassment is over and the era of common sense regulation can begin,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who signed the letter and met with Mr. Pruitt earlier this week, said in a statement Wednesday.

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