Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

EPA chief defends grant programs WH is eyeing for cuts

EPA chief defends grant programs WH is eyeing for cuts

The EPA withdrew both parts of the information request. Climate scientists are still working to understand how methane emissions fit into the overall climate change puzzle. Some of the EPA's most longstanding and best-known programs are facing potential elimination - including initiatives aimed at improving water and air quality as well as a number of regulations tasked with reducing the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Proposed cuts include slashing the climate protection budget by almost 70 percent to $29 million, cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97 percent to $10 million and environmental justice programs by 79 percent to $1.5 million.

The EPAs annual climate pollution tally has always been considered imperfect because its methods were known to be unable to fully capture all of Americas greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the Obama administrations Climate Action Plan, the EPA began to take steps previous year to better understand how oil and gas equipment leaks methane and how those leaks can be plugged as a way to cut USA greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn an Obama-era request for data on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. EDF is seeking those responses in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Eleven Republican state leaders, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sent a letter Wednesday urging Pruitt to toss the information request (Energywire, March 2).

Yesterday the EPA withdrew its request in response to a March 1 letter from nine state attorneys general and the governors of MS and Kentucky.

Pruitt says that removing the reporting request signals that EPA under his leadership takes state concerns seriously and is "committed to strengthening our partnership with the states". Environmentalist groups were quick to condemn the move, arguing that under Pruitt, the EPA will turn into an organization serving the oil and gas industry.

Mark Brownstein, vice president of climate and energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said industry's complaints about the ICR are "ironic", considering operators' contention past year that EPA needed more information before it could craft new emissions restrictions. “How is the public supposed to be confident that EPA policy is striking an appropriate balance without any data?”.

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