By Elizabeth Stauffer
Western Journal, July 1, 2022
In case you were wondering whether the Biden administration could do anything more to cripple the U.S. fossil fuel industry, the answer is yes.
The Environmental Protection Agency is considering an “ozone violation designation” for portions of the Permian Basin, the largest oil field in the United States, according to Bloomberg News. The Permian Basin is located in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
In a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that this action “could lead to skyrocketing prices at the pump by reducing production, increase the cost of that production, or do both.”
The Permian Basin, he informed the president, accounts for 25 percent of our nation’s gas supply — 95 million gallons per day — and 40 percent of all oil produced domestically.
Abbott emphasized that this decision was entirely discretionary and that Biden had the power to stop it.
“If you do not, this action alone might serve as a catalyst for economic harm leading to an even deeper reliance on imported foreign energy and a faster economic decline into the pending recession by forcing even more pain for American consumers to pay at the pump,” the Republican governor wrote.
He concluded by saying, “Because time is of the essence in these EPA proceedings, I must hear back from you by July 29, 2022. If the EPA’s proposed redesignation is not suspended by that date, Texas will take the action needed to protect the production of oil — and the gasoline that comes from it.”
A fact sheet on this proposal prepared by the U.S. General Services Administration says: “In 2017, EPA designated certain counties in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas located in the area known as the Permian Basin attainment/unclassifiable for the 2015 ozone NAAQS.
“EPA is now considering a discretionary redesignation for (portions of) these counties in New Mexico and Texas for the 2015 ozone NAAQS under Clean Air Act section 107(d)(3) based on current monitoring data and other air quality factors. If the area is redesignated to nonattainment, the state(s) will be required to submit a State Implementation Plan to bring the area into attainment with the 2015 ozone NAAQS.”
This action was instigated by the conservation group WildEarth Guardians, according to Bloomberg. It said monitors had found that “average ground-level ozone levels” had exceeded “the 2015 standard of 70 parts per billion several years running.”
The group petitioned the EPA in March 2021 and later threatened legal action if nothing was done.
Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth’s climate and energy program director, told Bloomberg this designation “basically says you’ve got to clean up this mess or the consequences are going to get even more severe as far as restricting your ability to permit more pollution and more development.”
If parts of this region are found to be in violation of the ozone limits, state regulators would have three years to bring those areas back into compliance.
Bloomberg spoke to Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, about the effects an EPA attack on the Permian Basin might have on future energy development.
“Creating uncertainty on permitting and inserting unnecessary regulatory barriers will only negatively impact the production necessary to meet the needs of consumers,” he said.
Why would this administration even consider moving forward now with a plan that would further discourage oil companies from starting new projects? A rhetorical question.
At a time when some Americans are forced to choose between putting food on their table or filling their gas tank, this idea should have been dismissed out of hand.
While Biden claims to care about the rising cost of gas, his administration’s actions say otherwise.