Spotlight Activity: U.S. Moves to Reduce Regulations on Methane
President Trump and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved to reduce regulations limiting the amount of methane that can be released into the atmosphere in the process of extracting oil and natural gas. Methane is known as a climate “super-pollutant,” as it carries as much as 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
The move comes as the latest in a series of rollbacks proposed by the Trump administration to cut back on regulations originally implemented by the Obama administration to reduce the United States’ contribution to climate change. The current administration justifies the rollbacks by removing calculations originally used to determine the economic benefit of the regulations that were based on “co-benefits,” or positive externalities of the rule. The oil and gas industry had already begun making the necessary changes to comply with the Obama-era rules.
Status: Falling Behind
While many consider natural gas to be a “bridge fuel” between heavier carbon-emitting fossil fuels like coal and carbon-neutral energy generation sources like renewables, allowing the oil and gas industry to release methane along its supply chain unchecked will severely negate any greenhouse gas savings that would normally accompany the switch to natural gas. The move represents a direct attack on climate policy by the Trump administration and should be blocked.
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