WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today is expected to announce its latest attempt to roll back commonsense curbs on leakage of methane, a powerful climate-changing air pollutant, from the oil and gas industry. The proposal is expected to repeal 2016 standards limiting methane emissions from new oil and gas equipment nationwide and exempt existing operations, which are responsible for more than 85% of the industry’s emissions, from any controls at all.
A statement follows from David Doniger, Senior Strategic Director of Climate & Clean Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“The Trump EPA is eager to give the oil and gas industry a free pass to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air. We simply cannot protect our children and grandchildren from climate catastrophe if EPA lets this industry off scot-free. If EPA moves forward with this reckless and sinister proposal, we will see them in court.”
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.
A 2015 report from NRDC and others found EPA can cut the industry’s methane pollution by at least half in less than a decade, while dramatically reducing other harmful air pollution at the same time, by issuing federal standards for oil and gas infrastructure nationwide. In today’s action EPA proposes instead to repeal methane standards already in place for new sources and to permanently exempt existing operations.
Americans overwhelmingly support federal efforts to cut methane pollution, according to polling from the American Lung Association.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.