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Trump Administration Rolls Back Methane Pollution Rules for Oil, Gas Industry

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration finalized two rules today that will roll back regulation of the oil and gas industry, allowing the release of hundreds of thousands of tons of methane and other harmful air pollutants over the coming years.

The rules finalized today remove requirements to control the super pollutant methane across the entire industry, including at oil and gas wells. They also entirely remove limits on methane and volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) emissions from the transmission and storage segments of the gas sector, including compressor stations along large pipelines. Finally, the rules ease crucial reporting and leak detection requirements at certain low-producing wells.

“This decision is mind-bogglingly stupid and destructive,” said Liz Jones, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are few things worse for the climate than the methane spewed by the oil and gas sector, and the solutions are readily available. Even for the Trump administration, this is an appalling new low.”

Methane is an especially potent climate pollutant that heats the atmosphere 87 times more than the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. As a result, methane emissions are responsible for around a quarter of the global warming we’re experiencing today. Methane reductions are essential for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius — the level necessary to avoid catastrophic damages to people and life on Earth.


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The onshore oil and natural gas sector is the largest source of methane emissions in the United States, and the latest scientific evidence shows that, for years, the amount of methane emitted by the sector has been dramatically underestimated. Methane and other air pollutants associated with oil and gas activities also form smog, which contributes to asthma and other localized public-health problems.

In 2016, the Obama Administration set methane standards for new and modified oil and gas infrastructure, restricted emissions of other smog-forming and hazardous air pollutants, and instituted regular monitoring and leak repair requirements. A court rejected an attempt in 2017 to “stay” the rules. Today’s rules are an attempt to permanently remove the core pieces of the Obama administration standards.

Another court recently invalidated the Trump administration’s attempt to roll back rules preventing methane leaks from oil and gas operations on tribal and public lands.


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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