The EPA is rolling back methane emission rules even though some energy producers have asked them not to.
The Trump administration giveaway to the oil and gas industry continues. This time, it's by rolling back methane regulations so that oil and gas companies can boost natural gas production. It's an idea so bad that even some oil and gas companies are opposed to it.
The rule proposed by the administration would reverse the Obama-era rules that would have required companies to install technology to better monitor leaks, require more frequent inspections, and install controls to limit the release of methane at all stages of production and transportation.
Those rules got enacted in the first place because methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas. Most discussions of global warming focus on the buildup of carbon dioxide, but methane is equally harmful, if not worse. Methane stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time but is much worse while it's there. It can have as much as 80 times the strength of carbon dioxide for the first 20 years in the atmosphere.
Put another way, the methane produced by the oil and gas industry produces the same amount of greenhouse gas as 69 million cars.
The administration has been eager to roll these rules back because having to install new technologies and controls and be more vigilant about leaks takes time and money away from simply producing oil and gas. Trump is very invested in having America be the world's No. 1 energy producer, even though the oil and gas markets are already oversupplied.
Moreover, even some major energy producers say this rule is a bad idea. Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell told the administration that failing to institute government-imposed controls on emissions "could undermine the argument that natural gas is a cleaner fuel." They also pointed out that rolling back the Obama-era rules is going to cause years of litigation, and could "lead to years of uncertainty before deregulation would lower costs."
Yes, even energy producers are asking the Trump administration to regulate their activities, but it is falling on deaf ears. Instead, Anne Idsal, the acting assistant commissioner for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, is musing over needing to "get to the fundamental basis of whether [methane] should have been regulated in the first place." She went on to say, "I don't see that there’s going to be some big climate concern here."
She's dead wrong. Of course, there's a huge climate concern when greenhouse gases are being poured into the atmosphere by oil and gas companies. But since Trump, a climate change denier, is in charge, there's little hope that anyone is going to come to their senses here.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.