E.P.A. to roll back regulations on methane, a potent greenhouse gas

(New York Times, 29 Aug 2019) The Trump administration is set to announce on Thursday that it intends to sharply curtail the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change, according to an industry official with knowledge of the plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a proposed rule, will aim to eliminate federal government requirements that the oil and gas industry put in place technology to inspect for and repair methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities.

The proposed rollback is particularly notable because major oil and gas companies have, in fact, opposed it, just as some other industries have opposed the Trump administration’s other major moves to dismantle climate change and other environmental rules put in place by President Barack Obama.

Some of the world’s largest auto companies have opposed Mr. Trump’s plans to let vehicles pollute more, while some electric utilities have opposed the relaxation of restrictions on toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

“This is extraordinarily harmful,” Rachel Kyte, the United Nations special representative on sustainable energy, said of this and other Trump administration efforts to undo climate regulations. “Just at a time when the federal government’s job should be to help localities and states move faster toward cleaner energy and a cleaner economy, just at that moment when speed and scale is what’s at stake, the government is walking off the field.”

Under the proposal, methane, the main component of natural gas, would only be indirectly regulated. A separate but related category of gases covered under the Obama-era rules, known as volatile organic compounds, would still be subject to regulation under the new rules. Those curbs would also have the side benefit of averting some methane emissions.

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New York Times, 29 Aug 2019: E.P.A. to roll back regulations on methane, a potent greenhouse gas