Trump Drops Methane Emissions Controls

methane

As if his plans to increase carbon dioxide emissions won’t be bad enough already, the Trump Administration now wants to eliminate controls on emissions of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas pollutant than CO2. Last week, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to undo the Obama EPA’s tightened restrictions on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. 

It’s a move so senselessly damaging to pollution control that even industry giants are against it. Among other companies, BP opposes this rollback. Limiting methane emissions from its own industry is “not only the right thing to do for the environment, there is also a clear business case for doing this,” said BP President Susan Dio. “The more gas we keep in our pipes and equipment, the more we can provide to the market — and the faster we can all move toward a lower-carbon future.”

League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “Trump and Wheeler’s latest proposal is so bad even the oil companies don’t want it. Weakening these clean air safeguards will result in the release of more methane pollution — a potent contributor to climate change — at a time when we need to be moving toward cleaner sources of energy. There couldn’t be a more tone-deaf response from this administration on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and as more extreme, climate-fueled storms continue to build off our coasts and threaten our communities.”

The Trump move would be especially damaging to climate action because of the concentrated damage inflicted by methane emissions. Per the Natural Resources Defense Council, “The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial emitter of methane, which is the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide. Pound for pound, methane packs 87 times the heat-trapping wallop of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Oil and gas operations emit an estimated 15 million metric tons of methane in 2018—equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which equals the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 335 coal-fired power plants.”

If you read the fine print, the Trump proposal has even more sinister implications. Its legal rationale “would not only strip away all methane protections for the oil and gas industry, but would also leave large segments of the industry entirely uncontrolled, and thus free to emit limitless amounts of any pollutant,” the Sierra Club says.

The critical necessity of electing a pro-environment president in 2020 has kicked up yet another notch.

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