On March 2, 2017, EPA announced it was withdrawing its Information Collection Request (ICR), sent to more than 15,000 owners and operators in the natural gas industry, seeking information on equipment and emissions at existing oil and gas operations. Formal notice of the withdrawal announcement was published in the Federal Register on March 7. See 82 FR 12,817. The withdrawal of the ICR was effective upon its announcement and those who received the ICR do not need to respond to it.
The final ICR was issued on November 16, 2016. According to EPA, the purpose of the ICR was to obtain information to help inform the agency’s “next step” in regulating emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry sector from existing operations. At the time the ICR was issued, EPA had already f inalized a series of regulations aimed at methane emissions from new oil and gas operations, and those regulations remain under challenge in a series of cases filed by industry and impacted states.
The ICR, which was revised on two occasions in response to public comment, imposed substantial reporting obligations on the oil and gas sector and was viewed by industry and many oil and gas producing states as unduly burdensome. On March 1, 2017, the attorneys general of nine states, along with the governors of Mississippi and Kentucky, wrote to new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, urging him to withdraw the ICR. In the letter, the states called the ICR “unnecessary and onerous” and stated that the industry’s costs of responding to the ICR, which EPA estimated at approximately $42 million, would far exceed its benefits. EPA cited this letter and the concerns it raised in the agency’s announcement of the withdrawal of the ICR, stating that it “takes these concerns seriously and is committed to strengthening its partnership with the states.”