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Even as the Trump administration is working to open more and more federal lands up for oil and natural gas exploration, the Interior Department is aiming at rolling back Obama administration rules restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas exploration on those lands.
The rollback to the rules is being published in the Federal Register this week and will put requirements that are similar to the rules in place before the Obama change in 2016. Previous to this week’s requirements, the Interior Department had put Obama’s rules on hold until 2019, at that time, the department said that it was holding back on the Obama rule in order to review to avoid industry compliance costs.
This is the fourth time the Trump administration has moved to delay the methane restrictions aimed at restricting the amount of methane being burned, or “flared off” at drilling sites causing pollution to the environment.
Methane pollution is a public health risk, causing asthma and breathing issues ion the population and is the second-highest climate-change gas and is far more potent as a greenhouse gas as it traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon monoxide.
The 2016 Obama rule is fiercely opposed by some members of the oil and gas industry. The Trump administration’s attempt at rolling back the rule last fall was frustrated by a Senate vote in May that upheld the restriction and a federal judge’s decision in the Northern District of California last fall that rejected a further Trump bid to rescind the rule. The court rejected the Trump attempt, saying it failed to show that the rule was faulty and further said the administration had failed to give a “reasoned explanation” as to why the rule should be overturned.
The order by the federal judge reinstated the rule while BLM delayed the rule until 2019.
This newest rule that was announced by the Trump administration this week will permanently replace Obama’s rule later this year after a 60-day comment period.
Fred Krupp, the Environmental Defense Find president said that the Obama rule requiring oil and gas companies to comply with methane reduction prompted them to “take common-sense and cost-effective measures to reduce preventable leaks and venting of methane.”
Krupp also stated that through the industry’s voluntary program, backed by the American Petroleum Institute, and followed by large energy companies working to reduce the harmful gases will be negated as the Trump rule will reward “the least responsible actors in industry at a time when other companies are moving forward to tackle methane waste.”