Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded a two-day oil and natural gas roundtable with stakeholders including state and local leaders, tribes, industry, trade groups, and environmental nongovernmental organizations. Convened by the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) and the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) with EPA funding and facilitated by Jill Cooper of Geosyntec Consultants, the purpose of the roundtable was to discuss challenges to responsible energy production and identify innovative and effective solutions to overcoming these challenges.
“EPA is committed to working together with stakeholders to improve regulatory certainty and find solutions to environmental challenges,” said EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “It is important that we build upon the efforts of the previous roundtable to coordinate and provide a forum for all sides to listen and learn from each other.”
“I am grateful to the diverse group of stakeholders who participated in the roundtable and I look forward to continued collaboration as STRONGER works to enhance protection of human health and the environment," said STRONGER Executive Director Ryan Steadley.
In February 2018, EPA partnered with ECOS and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) to host the first Oil and Natural Gas Roundtable. The inaugural roundtable focused on identifying practical solutions to various environmental regulatory, permitting, and compliance challenges to achieve more effective and efficient environmental outcomes. Following the 2018 Roundtable, EPA produced a Highlights Document capturing various individual stakeholder ideas, experiences, and practices.
With the goal of continuing the dialogue from the 2018 Roundtable, stakeholders worked together Monday and today to provide individual input on cross-cutting issues and solutions to challenges at the intersection of technology, regulation, and environmental protection. EPA’s engagement with the oil and gas sector and its co-regulators continues through such mechanisms as a Memorandum of Understanding with STRONGER (signed in November 2018) and an MOU with IOGCC (signed in October 2019), with the goal of improving communication, coordination, and collaboration in the protection of public health and the environment through responsible oil and natural gas exploration and development.
“Wyoming is encouraged by the positive work considered through this roundtable,” said Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Director Todd Parfitt. “A multifaceted group of interests are participating to find innovative regulatory and private sector solutions for methane, produced water and more within the oil and gas industry. This is a fundamental industry to Wyoming's economy, and we appreciate the partnership between STRONGER, ECOS and the U.S. EPA.”
“In Oklahoma, we are working together with our oil & gas industry to create a culture of environmental compliance to benefit all of our citizens,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Kenneth Wagner. “Working with EPA, ECOS and IOGCC is vital to ensuring that our producers continue meeting the nation’s demand for energy in the safest and most environmentally sensitive manner possible. This Roundtable is another example of how bringing Industry, State & Federal regulators, and NGO’s together fosters constructive discourse around these important issues.”
“I was proud to be a part of history in signing the STRONGER MOU with the EPA and now, we are seeing the fruits of our labor," said Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy Deputy Director Butch Lambert. "When all those involved come to the same table we end up with a successful, environmentally sound and economically productive natural gas and oil industry.”