The Slatest

Trump Proposes Eliminating Methane Emissions Regulations for the Oil and Gas Industry

Oil refinery fixtures jut into the skyline, with suburban homes in the foreground.
The Valero oil refinery near the Houston Ship Channel on March 6.
Loren Elliott/Getty Images

The environmental hits keep on coming from the Trump administration with news that the Environmental Protection Agency is now pushing to eliminate federal regulations on the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change. The White House now wants to lift Obama-era requirements that oil and gas companies use technology to monitor and repair potential methane leaks from across the supply chain—from wells, pipelines, and storage facilities.

If that didn’t seem ludicrous enough given the fact that even some in the oil and gas industry—and other industries—have urged the Trump administration not to roll back certain environmental regulations, this is a literal on-the-record quote about the proposal from a Trump official at the EPA.

“The purpose of this rule is to get to the fundamental basis of whether [methane] should have been regulated in the first place,” acting assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation Anne Idsal told the Wall Street Journal about the proposed rollback. “It’s not about whether we’re doing the maximum we can or should do to deal with [climate change].” “I don’t see that there’s going to be some big climate concern here,” she added. From methane?

“The vast majority of climate research identifies human-caused emissions as the primary driver of climate change, most commonly through carbon-dioxide emissions from sources including factories, planes and cars,” the WSJ notes. “But methane, which accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping the earth’s heat, according to estimates used by the EPA. Its figures show the oil-and-gas industry has long been the nation’s largest emitter of methane, even before discoveries in shale and fracking led to a wave of new drilling.”

“Nothing stops [companies] from taking whatever voluntary measures they think is appropriate to deal with those concerns,” Idsal said. “Our job at the EPA is to regulate in a legally and scientifically responsible manner.”

These people are in charge.