New EPA Regulations Are a Death Sentence for Small Oil and Gas Producers – Unworkable EPA regulations will put small producers across the nation out of business.

January 29, 2024

Originally published by The American Spectator. Written by  .

I was just down the hall when Hunter Biden made his surprise appearance on Capitol Hill this Wednesday. President Joe Biden’s profligate son made headlines when, unannounced, he stopped by the House Oversight Committee as they debated whether to hold him in contempt of Congress. Hunter Biden was accompanied by several security guards and trailed by media eager for shots of the day’s biggest political story.

Just down the hall, in a far less crowded committee room, the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce were gathered to investigate regulatory overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This hearing didn’t make the news, but it should have.

Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, chair of the Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials subcommittee, convened the hearing in response to new regulations on methane emissions promulgated by the EPA at the recent COP28 climate change conference in Dubai. Empowered by the Inflation Reduction Act to impose Biden’s radical green agenda on the nation, the EPA has devised inflexible, unworkable regulations for methane emissions that will destroy small and mid-sized domestic oil and gas producers.

New Methane Regulations Burden Small Producers

The full text of these latest EPA regulations can be found in a 1,700-page document — why use one word when 100 will do? — that essentially functions as a death sentence for smaller, independent petroleum producers.

In order to reduce the amount of methane in the atmosphere, the EPA now requires that oil and gas producers capture all methane released during drilling, production, and operations, even though this capture is economically and technologically impossible for many companies. The EPA regulations contain novel bans on routine practices used by producers to convert methane into carbon dioxide, a less harmful atmospheric gas. By requiring companies to adopt new practices and invest in new technologies — not to mention pay new taxes and fees — the EPA places a significant economic burden on the domestic energy sector.

The compliance costs are massive — far too large for small producers. The EPA’s one-size-fits-all regulations fail to recognize the diversity within the domestic energy sector, subjecting small family businesses to the same regulations as massive corporations. While big oil producers can afford to transition their operations to accord with the EPA’s regulations, small producers are watching their livelihoods disappear in real time.

New Costs to Small Businesses

Drew Martin, the managing member and director of finance at Miller Energy, testified that the EPA’s regulations would add an estimated over $8 million in additional expenses. Last year, the company’s total operating budget was $11.1 million.

“That’s over 70 percent cost to my bottom line,” Martin said. “I can’t survive that. I don’t believe many of my peers in Michigan producing marginal wells can survive that.”

Patrick Montalban, who is chairman and CEO of his family oil and gas business in Montana, similarly testified that the “dozens of new EPA reporting requirements alone would be enough to put his small company out of business due to the time and manpower that would be needed to comply.”

Small producers across America like Miller Energy and Montalban Oil and Gas Operations are facing eradication by the EPA. Across the nation, independent producers will be forced to close their doors and abandon productive wells, leaving hardworking Americans jobless in Biden’s nightmare economy.

EPA Representative Breaks Promise to Congressman

Prior to Martin’s and Montalban’s testimonies about the unworkable burdens of the EPA’s new regulations, an EPA administrator gave testimony of his own. Joseph Goffman, who is the principal deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, repeatedly insisted that the EPA had consulted with industry members when constructing the methane regulations.

Rep. August Pfluger pushed Goffman on that claim, asking him to name just two or three of the companies that his department at the EPA had spoken with. Goffman couldn’t — or didn’t want to.

“I’m not sure that anybody at a small, independent level was consulted,” Pfluger said. “Maybe Exxon was, but I’m not sure that the industry [was].”

Pfluger asked whether Goffman would commit to staying and listening to the panel of small producers, Martin and Montalban among them. Goffman immediately committed to listening to their testimony. But as soon as his testimony ended, Goffman and his retinue of EPA underlings stood up and exited the room. Promises made, no promises kept.

Men like Goffman, who say one thing and do another, get to sit in Washington and dream about a quixotic green energy revolution. Meanwhile, across America, hardworking men and women are all but powerless against the encroachments of an administrative state bent on destroying their livelihood. Today, small to mid-sized oil and gas producers are in the crosshairs. But they are only the first casualties in the Left’s advancing green agenda.