Associated Press in Washington
First published on Tue 11 Sep 2018
- Obama-era rules targeted climate change gas from oil wells
- EPA: move ‘may degrade air quality and adversely affect health’
The Trump administration moved closer on Tuesday to rolling back Obama-era rules reducing oil and gas industry leaks of methane gas.
Methane is one of the most potent agents of climate change.
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally released its proposed substitute for a 2016 Obama administration rule that aimed to step up detection and elimination of methane leaks at well sites and other oil and gas facilities, it conceded the move “may … degrade air quality and adversely affect health and welfare”.
The move is part of a broad Trump administration effort to undo former president Barack Obama’s legacy programs to fight climate change by cutting emissions from oil, gas and coal.
The EPA conceded that relaxing the Obama-era rule for methane leaks at oil and gas sites would put another 380,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere by 2025. The amount is roughly equivalent to more than 30m tons of carbon dioxide, another fossil-fuel emission that receives far more attention in efforts to slow climate change.
Relaxing federal oversight will save $75m in regulatory costs annually, the agency said.
Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, a Colorado-based group that represents more than 300 companies, said the proposed changes would make the EPA rule more efficient and workable. The previous rule was “full of red tape”, Sgamma said in an interview. “This rule cleans that up, makes it more practical.”