WASHINGTON – In a move to increase the already soaring domestic production of oil and gas, the Trump administration plans to roll back Obama-era rules to curb methane leaks, which are even worse for the climate than carbon dioxide pollution.
In a proposed rule to be announced today, the Environmental Protection Agency will seek to repeal requirements adopted by President Obama that require the oil and gas industry to install technology to decrease methane leaks from well heads, pipelines and storage facilities. Although more carbon dioxide is emitted from coal plants, methane is 80 times as powerful a heat-trapping gas than CO2.
The Washington Post says the Trump administration believes the rules are unnecessary, because oil and gas companies “had an economic incentive to limit methane because capturing it allows companies to sell more gas.”
But even some of the biggest oil and gas companies oppose the rollback. Exxon, Shell and BP have called on the EPA to leave the methane rules in place. The president of Shell U.S. told the Post that the company will continue to follow the existing rule.
“Under the control of a former coal lobbyist, the EPA is now literally working for the dirty fossil fuel industry,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Even in the face of opposition from some of the world’s biggest polluters, the Trump administration barrels ahead with an anti-science, anti-health proposal that will make the climate crisis worse.”
Before joining the Trump administration, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was a former top lobbyist for the coal and chemical industries. At the EPA, Wheeler has steadily overseen the repeal of major air and water pollution and climate change initiatives launched by the Obama administration.
The EPA says the rule change is expected to save the industry $17 million to $19 million a year. John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, tweeted that the existing rules would deliver climate benefits of up to $1.8 billion in 2025.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.