As it has attempted to do numerous times over the first two and a half years of President Trump’s Administration, EPA today announced a proposal to remove pivotal greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and natural gas industry in a move that has dangerous repercussions for our climate. Today’s announcement signals that EPA will move forward with removing the methane standards for the nation’s biggest industrial source of methane pollution. At the same time, EPA is also proposing to give an entire segment of the oil and gas sector a pass from controlling its air pollution. To justify these actions, EPA is ignoring decades of its own precedent and mountains of evidence that prove that not only is reducing methane from the entire industry easily done, but it is also extremely important if we are to avoid the most catastrophic impacts from climate change.
Moreover, EPA’s proposal to also remove methane regulation from the industry signals to the rest of the world that the United States does not care enough about climate change to address one of the top greenhouse gas emitting sectors in the country.
“If EPA manages to finalize and implement this illegal proposal, it will have devastating impacts on our climate for years to come,” said Darin Schroeder, an attorney with the Clean Air Task Force. “When you look at this proposal together with their proposal to further weaken this rule, EPA’s actions will lead to industry dumping an additional 1.2 million tons of methane into the air in 2025 – which will warm the planet as much as the pollution from 22 million cars.”
The methane standards for new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry have been in place since 2016, and are reducing emissions of methane and VOCs—along with providing the co-benefit of reducing hazardous air pollutants—from sources along the entire gas supply system, from the wellhead through the transmission system to the city gate. In proposing to remove the transmission and storage segment from the regulation, EPA is proposing to ignore wholesale the methane and VOC pollution from an entire part of the oil and gas sector despite the fact that many of the controls in this segment have proven to be highly cost-effective and are used elsewhere on similar facilities throughout the sector. EPA’s proposal seeks to exempt transmission and storage from regulation, erroneously claiming that this segment is separate from the rest of the sector. This proposed approach is a blatant attempt to divide the oil and gas sector into pieces to make it easier for them to ignore the sector’s overall methane emissions and allow the sector to operate without EPA oversight.
“EPA’s logic here is an exercise in absurdity,” said Schroeder. “It doesn’t matter how many slices you cut in a pizza, the calories for the pizza are the same,” he said.