Okla. AG warns EPA using 'questionable science'

Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 28, 2011, 1:30pm


OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- In a letter Monday to his fellow attorneys general, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt warned that the federal government is using "questionable science and data" to estimate methane emissions from natural gas production.

According to Pruitt's office, the EPA uses Natural Gas STAR data to calculate emissions.

However, STAR data does not measure methane escaping from wells into the atmosphere, the attorney general explained.

Rather, it measures methane returned to the surface through drilling or flowback. Most of this methane is recaptured by companies to sell or is burned through approved flaring, if not marketable.

"My concern is that the EPA is employing its flawed methodology in order to rationalize new and unjustified federal regulations to solve a methane emissions problem that simply does not exist," Pruitt wrote in his one-page letter.

"If the EPA does so, the state's ability to self-regulate will have been eroded without justification."

Pruitt said he sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, asking for more information about the methodology being employed by the agency and suggesting that its methods be revisited and revised.

"This misstep or deception by the EPA has resulted in new figures that are faulty, unreasonable and based on a distorted understanding of how gas drilling operates," the attorney general said in a statement.

In his letter Monday, Pruitt asked the other attorneys general to review the issue in their own states. He also asked them to consider sending their own letters to Jackson "to ensure the EPA is making regulatory decisions based on sound science and data, especially when those decisions directly affect state regulatory primacy."

"The agency's actions have a very real effect on families, businesses, communities and state economies," he said.

"The EPA's actions in this case are working toward eroding the states' ability to self-regulate and stifle exploration of domestic energy sources, putting our national energy security at risk without justification."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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