Oil and gas companies could face far looser oversight of emissions of potent climate-changing methane gas under a proposal expected from the Trump administration as soon as Thursday, oil industry and environmental groups said.
The government’s plan would ease requirements on oil and gas sites to monitor for methane leaks and plug them.
Methane is a component of natural gas that’s frequently wasted through leaks or intentional releases during drilling operations. The gas is considered a more potent contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide, although it occurs in smaller volumes.
Under President Donald Trump, both the Interior Department and the EPA have proposed a series of rules — some blocked by courts — to loosen regulations of methane emissions.
Environmental advocates expected the new methane plan to go further than previous proposals, with a goal of exempting companies from requirements to detect and stop methane leaks at existing oil and gas sites.
For the EPA, part of the goal is “they want to get rid of direct regulation of methane,” said Matt Watson, a vice president of the energy program at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group.
The oil and gas industry is the nation’s primary source of methane emissions, according to the EPA, accounting for nearly one-third in 2016.
The administration rollbacks on emissions from oilfields, storage sites and pipelines have split the oil industry, worrying some in the industry about growing blowback in a world increasingly mindful of climate change.
Royal Dutch Shell this year urged the administration to crack down — not ease up — on the emissions. Many others in the oil and industry have welcomed the easing, however.
The latest rollback “highlights the Trump administration’s complete contempt for our climate,” Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said in a statement. “The EPA is now so determined to actually increase greenhouse pollution that it’s even shrugging off concerns from oil and gas companies about gutting these protections.”
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info