BLM to Lift Protections Against Methane Emissions on America’s Public Lands

The Trump administration continues to try to roll back critical safeguards against climate change and health-harming air pollution. 

Eric Gay/AP

In another giveaway to the oil and gas industry, today the Bureau of Land Management is expected to finalize its rollback of Obama-era protections against unnecessary methane pollution on America’s public lands.

The move would be the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to block the Waste Prevention Rule, which went into effect in January 2017. It requires oil and gas companies drilling on public and tribal lands to use proven measures to reduce methane pollution that is leaked, vented, or flared. The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial contributor of methane emissions—the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide.

“This commonsense rule is needed to curb smog-forming, cancer-causing, and climate-warming air pollution leaking from oil and gas facilities across the country,” says David Doniger, senior strategic director of NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program, referring to the rollback’s significant public health impacts. Air pollution from leaking oil and gas facilities causes smog, triggering asthma attacks and increasing cancer risks for nearby residents. Though Americans overwhelmingly support federal efforts to cut methane pollution, according to the American Lung Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also taken steps to undo its own methane pollution protections.

"The Trump administration is relentless in its push to give the oil and gas industry multimillion-dollar handouts at the expense of Americans’ health and environment," Doniger says. “We will continue to fight in court to ensure people and the planet come before powerful polluters."

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