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EPA: 'Nothing is off the table' for regulating methane during Obama term

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EPA: 'Nothing is off the table' for regulating methane during Obama term

The U.S. EPA's Janet McCabe was adamant April 27 that the administrationis moving as aggressively and methodically as it can to address climate change.

McCabe, the EPA Office of Air and Radiation's acting assistantadministrator, emphasized that the administration's approach to regulating methaneemissions from existing oil and gas sources must be based on facts and able to . She dismissedintimations that the EPA is using a multiphase information-collection request onthe subject as a way to forestall writing rules limiting methane output from existingindustry equipment.

While the accuracy of methane emissions data has improved byleaps and bounds in the past couple of years, the emissions data itself is not enough,she said at a Bloomberg Government event in Washington, D.C.

"That's just one piece of writing a regulation for existingsources," McCabe said, noting that the EPA must also better understand whattechnologies are available and how they can be deployed on existing equipment acrossthe range of facilities that are out there.

"We have oil and gas facilities all across the country —all the way from single oil wells in cornfields to big operations — and they'revery different," McCabe said. "Some of the sites have electricity available.Some of them don't. Some of them are close to pipelines. Some of them aren't. Howare you going to design control approaches that are cost-effective across the rangeof activities? That's where information from the industry is really necessary."

The EPA on March 10 announcedplans to cut methane emissionsfrom existing oil and gas sources, but whether the administration will be able toproduce regulations before President Barack Obama leaves office remains to be seen.McCabe gave no clues as to when the information-collecting stage will be completeor when the rules might come out, but she did not close off the possibility thatthe regulations might emerge during Obama's term.

"Nothing is off the table," she said.

McCabe also eschewed comments that the Obama administration hasnot done enough to combat climate change.

"We have done more in this administration to address climatepollutants than has ever been done," McCabe said. "We have been movingin a very methodical manner addressing pollution in ways that withstood legal challenge.… And that is what we are doing: We are proceeding step by step by step, using ourlegal authorities to address these [pollutants]. Every step we are taking is focusedin that direction."