WASHINGTON— Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed Thursday to eliminate direct limits on methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas infrastructure.
“This reckless rollback pours fuel on the flames of a world on fire,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The EPA is now so determined to actually increase greenhouse pollution that it’s even shrugging off concerns from oil and gas companies about gutting these protections.”
The proposal has two alternatives. The first would scrap New Source Performance Standards for emissions of methane and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and gas transmission and storage infrastructure and remove methane limits for oil and gas production and processing equipment. The second would scrap methane limits for all oil and gas infrastructure and equipment.
Methane is a climate pollutant that heats the atmosphere 87 times more than the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Reductions of methane are essential to avoid catastrophic climate tipping points and to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Methane also helps form smog, which contributes to asthma and other public-health problems.
Today’s proposal goes even further than the Trump administration’s previous attempts to overhaul the Obama-era rule. In 2017 former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt imposed a moratorium on enforcement of parts of the rule. But the D.C. Circuit court struck that down, ruling the move was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious,” and that the agency did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to block enforcement.
“Fracked gas is a climate killer, and it’s clear that simply reinstating the methane rule won’t be enough to stave off catastrophe,” Siegel said. “The next president must commit to a rapid phaseout of all fossil fuel production and use.”