Sunday, 22 September, 2019

EPA proposes rolling back regulations on methane emissions

Trump administration expected to roll back methane regulations – report EPA to roll back Obama-era methane emissions standards
Sandra Phillips | 31 August, 2019, 20:16

The Trump administration will roll back crucial regulations on methane emissions, which are one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The API and the EPA maintain that the regulation is unnecessary because companies have an incentive to trap methane voluntarily-they can sell it. An EPA fact sheet shows the changes would result in an estimated 370,000 short tons of methane emissions that would have been prevented under the old rule and the EPA says the proposal would save the oil and natural gas industry $17 to $19 million a year. Brandt also said existing limits on VOCs will not reduce methane emissions as much as is needed to meet climate goals.

The EPA's main proposal on methane, released Thursday, would "remove sources [from regulation] in the transmission and storage segment of the oil and gas industry".

Exxon Mobil spokesman Scott Silvestri said the oil giant would continue urging EPA - as it has since past year - to stick to directly regulating methane emissions from oil and gas facilities.

Methane levels globally have risen to historic highs, and the oil industry's USA shale gas boom has been the single largest driver of that, said Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology at Cornell University. "It is a key component for oil & gas companies to get a handle on, if they want to position their businesses to benefit under a well-below 2°C trajectory", Yasmine Svan of Legal & General Investment Management said in a statement.

The latest rollback "highlights the Trump administration's complete contempt for our climate", Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said in a statement. EPA says methane is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in how much warming it can contribute to the atmosphere over time.

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Already, the Trump administration has taken several steps to limit the government's ability to regulate other greenhouse gases in the future, including in a recently finalized rule curbing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

"We believe sound environmental policies are foundational to the vital role natural gas can play in the energy transition and have made clear our support of 2016 law to regulate methane from new and modified onshore sources", Shell's Watkins told the publication.

Trump, who insists he is an environmentalist, has also relaxed rules on carbon emissions from vehicles and intends to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Trump administration points out that USA methane emissions are on a downward trend, and argues that will continue, despite the rollback to regulations. 'If EPA moves forward with this reckless and sinister proposal, we will see them in court'.

A study by the Environmental Defense Fund, advocacy group, has concluded the oil and gas industry is emitting far more of the heat-trapping gas than is reported to the EPA. The agency also said it will hold a public hearing on the proposal at a time and in a place yet to be announced.

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