WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ahead of the public comment period that began this week for a proposal to weaken methane standards, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined U.S. Senator Michael Bennet along with 19 of their Senate colleagues in a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the public comment period for the rule and provide adequate justification for modifying the national standards.
In 2016, the EPA adopted the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for methane emissions from oil and gas sources following a 75-day comment period. The senators requested that the same 75-day comment period be provided for any modifications to the NSPS, and that the comment period be delayed altogether until the EPA provides written answers to questions regarding the modification's effects on the public health and the cost of the rule.
"There is clear and compelling evidence that the current NSPS rulemaking is cost-effective, improves air quality, and increases public health," the senators wrote to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
The senators expressed concern about the precedent the proposed changes could set, resulting in more pollution across neighboring states. They also opposed modifying-or completely removing-EPA's methane regulations, especially given the Senate's recent vote to retain the Bureau of Land Management's authority to regulate methane emissions on public lands.
In addition to Udall, Heinrich, and Bennet, the letter's signatories include U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
A copy of the letter is available HERE.