Trump’s EPA is continuing their deregulation journey as they focus on weakening methane emissions rules for oil and gas companies.
“The EPA first proposed the rollback last year, accusing the Obama administration of enacting a legally flawed rule, and agency officials said it would save companies tens of millions of dollars a year in compliance requirements without changing the trajectory of methane emissions. But states, including California, and a coalition of environmental advocacy groups have warned that the changes would be illegal — not to mention a setback in the fight against climate change — and are expected to quickly sue to block it,” says an article from PBS.
According to The Hill, the two finalized rules rescind standards that specifically regulate methane emissions from oil and gas production, processing, transmission and storage.
With this decision comes the possibility of even more rollbacks to other pollutants in the near future by former coal lobbyist and current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“Regulatory burdens put into place by the Obama-Biden Administration fell heavily on small and medium-sized energy businesses. Today’s regulatory changes remove redundant paperwork, align with the Clean Air Act, and allow companies the flexibility to satisfy leak-control requirements by complying with equivalent state rules,” says Wheeler yesterday.
As the New York Times reports this decision effectively frees fossil companies “from the need to detect and repair methane leaks—even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known.”
Many opponents of this decision have voiced their disdain. Adrian Shelley, the director of Public Citizen’s Texas office stated:
This damaging new rule won’t save fossil fuel corporations, it won’t bring the U.S. closer to energy independence, and it won’t protect people from dangerous air pollution. It hurts everyone. In Texas alone, drillers waste 1.4 million tonnes of methane gas each year—enough to supply every home in Dallas and Houston combined. Natural gas companies don’t want to waste natural gas, and they supported the Obama-era rule and were planning accordingly. Trump’s backward-looking policy deprives industry of what it craves most: regulatory certainty. It only moves the goalposts for a struggling industry.
“This decision is mind-bogglingly stupid and destructive,” declared Liz Jones, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are few things worse for the climate than the methane spewed by the oil and gas sector, and the solutions are readily available.”