Natural gas flaring at an oil well near Watford City, N.D. Photo: Andrew Cullen / Reuters

By Lisa Friedman
12 February 2018

(The New York Times) – The Trump administration on Monday moved to repeal one of the last unchallenged climate-change regulations rushed into place in the waning days of the Obama presidency — a rule restricting the release of planet-warming methane into the atmosphere.

The rule, which applied to companies drilling for energy on federal land, has been the subject of intense court battles and delay efforts, as well as one surprise vote last year in which Senate Republicans temporarily saved it from being torpedoed.

Methane, which is about 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, accounts for 9 percent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions; about a third of that is estimated to come from oil and gas operations. Under the rule, oil and gas companies would have been required to capture leaked methane, update their equipment and write new plans for minimizing waste when drilling on government property.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management described the rule as costly, redundant and overly burdensome.

“In order to achieve energy dominance through responsible energy production, we need smart regulations, not punitive regulations,” Joe Balash, the department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said Monday in a statement.

The move came as the Trump administration released an $11.3 billion budget for the Interior Department that emphasized the development of domestic energy resources and “responsible development of energy on public lands and offshore waters.”

The methane waste rule was aimed at accidental gas leaks and the process of venting and burning off leaked gas, known as flaring, from oil and gas wells on public lands. It was created as part of a broad strategy to tackle climate change as well as wasteful releases of gas. The Bureau of Land Management estimated in 2016 that the rule would prevent as much as 180,000 tons of methane emissions annually, about the equivalent of taking 950,000 cars off the road.

The oil and gas industry argued that the rule could cost as much as $279 million to implement and would hinder production. The industry made repeal of the regulation a top priority. […]

Environmental activists denounced the plan and noted that the repeal would return the Bureau of Land Management to a set of policies dealing with methane waste that are almost 40 years old. “Gutting the rule would allow unchecked waste of natural gas, unnecessary pollution and the loss of revenue to communities and tribes to address critical needs such as schools and roads,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. [more]

Trump Administration Targets Obama-Era Effort to Limit Methane


  1. Anonymous said...

    Trump has a hard-on for anything done by Obama, and has viciously attacked every environmental policy. We all know that the man is unfit to be President and should be removed from office for the safety and well-being of the nation, indeed the world. Now we need to get Congress to act.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Though Trump is messing up every environmental policy (especially with Pruitt at the EPA) for the benefit of the corporate/industrial sector (and so Wall Street), having him elected has now opened a HUGE can of worms that the "other side" had been "hiding" - collusion, abuse and misuse of positions of power and especially rampant abuse by our so-called watch-dog "security" agencies. This needs to be cut out with perps going to jail. Our country is already collapsing socially, environmentally, politically and economically. There's not much time left the way things are going. War is our business model now - despite Trump campaigning on peace with Russia and getting out of the Middle East. The Deep State has been exposed for corralling Trump into doing their bidding. THAT'S who we have to expose, root out and JAIL for what they've done to the U.S. since JFK.  


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