Trump Administration moves to scale back methane regulations

World Today

Trump Administration moves to scale back methane regulations

The Trump administration is moving to scale back regulations on methane emissions.  The new rule would eliminate existing federal requirements that force big oil and gas operations to use leak-monitoring technology to spot methane emissions.

It would roll back Obama-era policies that ensure such leaks — at wells, pipelines and storage facilitates – are not only caught, but also fixed.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports. 

Environmental activists warn there’ll be detrimental consequences to an already ailing climate. They say the policy change – formally proposed on Wednesday – will threaten the environment and contribute to global warming.

They’re vowing legal action and calling the rollback “reckless.” The U.N.’s envoy for sustainable energy called it “extraordinarily harmful.”

Methane is considered the second most significant greenhouse gas, just behind carbon dioxide. But it traps much more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 does – 80 times more – and as a result can do more damage.

In Washington, a trade group representing 650 oil and gas corporations – of all sizes – praised the ruling. The American Petroleum Institute said it’s a smarter approach. 

But some big fossil fuel companies – like Exxon, Shell and BP – oppose the rollback, saying they  support government regulation of methane.  Smaller operations say they can’t afford the costs of the added technology like the big firms.

Meanwhile, others warn the move could be the nail in the coffin for America’s already-struggling natural gas sector by pushing money and interest away from what’s been touted as a cleaner alternative to coal.

A previous move to suspend the regulation while the Trump administration looked for an alternative was ruled unlawful by a federal court. This new move will be followed by a period of public comment, and could get approved and implemented early next year.