THE Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), the American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC), and 47 additional US oil and natural gas industry trade associations have urged the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work closer with industry.

The lobbyists said the EPA, which is undertaking an information-gathering request, said better interaction with industry will allow for a better and more thorough understanding of oil and natural gas operations.

The energy trade associations submitted comments to the EPA on its proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) for oil and gas facilities. They outlined their concerns with the agency’s proposed ICR and stressed the need for EPA to get a better understanding of the declining nature of oil and natural gas wells, and learn from existing agency resources and resources that are publicly available from state agencies.

“It’s been reported that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry is hard at work reducing its air emissions,” said Lee Fuller, IPAA Executive Vice President. “The industry has successfully cut its greenhouse gas emissions levels, allowing the United States to become the world’s leader in cutting carbon.

“However, this proposed ICR has all the signs of a rushed job, not a thorough process to gather the facts and hear meaningful public comment from the people closest to the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

This rushed information-gathering effort is a misguided approach and we strongly encourage EPA to work with the industry and state agencies to thoroughly and accurately collect data – much of which is already publicly available – on oil and natural gas operations.

“This is a real opportunity for the decision-makers at EPA to better understand the complexities of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. However, this information-gathering effort creates additional paperwork for companies to produce to EPA and adds unnecessary burdens on companies’ technical teams to prepare and submit rushed comments under enormous time constraints.

“Meanwhile, many of these same technical teams are currently developing their companies’ compliance programs for EPA’s June regulations and will then turn to their companies’ greenhouse gas inventory reports, which are due in the first quarter of 2017.

“Instead of creating duplicative work and information, which goes against the intent of the Paperwork Reduction Act, EPA should first, collect all of the publicly available data from industry databases – or acquire it free from state agencies – then, EPA can refine its search and request more targeted, specific information from the industry.

“As it stands now, EPA’s proposed ICR is clearly being driven by a tight political timeline to initiate and largely complete the information-gathering process before the end of this administration’s term,” concluded Fuller.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy previously indicated that the agency is unfamiliar with the complexities of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. “EPA’s learning this industry right now because it is not an industry we regulate,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We’ve just gotten into regulation of this so there’s a lot of hundreds of thousands of small sources and EPA does not generally have a relationship with this industry as we do other sectors that we’ve regulated for frankly decades. But we are learning.”

The IPAA added that among the challenges for the EPA is to understand the impact of regulations on the hundreds of thousands of small sources.

“Yet, under EPA’s planned schedule, it would be sending its detailed questionnaires to companies before it ever received the information from the first questionnaire to know how to get a full understanding of the industry,” the IPAA concluded.