Trump EPA proposes scrapping methane limits at oil and gas operations

Trump EPA proposes scrapping methane limits at oil and gas operations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce the rule change, and has said easing regulations would save energy companies millions of dollars. But it is a potent greenhouse gas - much better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2.

In 2016, Obama's EPA issued the first rules limiting methane emissions from new oil and gas fracking operations, including regulations on transport equipment.

President Donald Trump insists he is an environmentalist, but the move is his administration's latest easing of environmental rules, including many put forth by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Asked about global warming this week, Trump only lauded the United States' "tremendous wealth". The proposals made today are separate from and in addition to a 2018 proposed rule that eased methane reporting and monitoring requirements for oil- and gas-extraction businesses.

The agency will continue regulating volatile organic compounds, which are also released during oil and gas operations, rather than methane directly.

Environmental groups and former EPA officials swiftly condemned the rule change for ignoring climate science and the added risk posed by methane emissions, which have 25 times the heat-trapping capability of Carbon dioxide over a 100-year time span.

The oil and gas industry is the nation's primary source of methane emissions, according to the EPA, accounting for almost one-third in 2016. The agency said it also plans to finalize a related methane rule "in the upcoming months".

Like numerous administration's proposals the rule is expected to face legal challenges from environmental groups that slammed the proposed rule, saying it gives the oil and gas industry a free pass and negates the argument that natural gas is a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels. However, as Politico explained, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has proposed doing away with these regulations in the past, and it has not panned out - so there's a chance that Wheeler will not be able to turn the regulations into law.

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As iPolitics reports, Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said Doug Ford's government is committed to "using every tool at (their) disposal" to fight against the federal Liberals' Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted in April.

As expected, the methane rollback earned quick reproach from Democrats on Capitol Hill, who said it would make climate change worse and endanger lives. Tom Udall, whose state is working on its own methane regulations for its burgeoning oil and gas industry, called the rollback an "affront to New Mexicans".

Environmental and public health groups slammed the proposal.

President Donald Trump, who previously called climate change a hoax, withdrew the USA in 2017 from the Paris climate accord, which aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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But some oil and gas companies, including Shell, BP and Exxon, have actually supported the Obama-era regulations.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not public, said Trump officials were confident the oil and gas industry had an economic incentive to limit methane because capturing it allows companies to sell more gas.

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