President Donald Trump’s administration is revising a former President Barack Obama-era rule on methane emissions to help make the U.S. energy dependent while helping people in rural parts of the country retain jobs.
“In order to achieve energy dominance through responsible energy production, we need smart regulations, not punitive regulations,” Joe Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said in a statement following Trump’s move to revise the controversial rule.
“We believe this proposed rule strikes that balance and will allow job growth in rural America,” said Balash, an official inside the Interior Department. The Interior Department believes the regulation was redundant and damaged industry inside rural parts of the country.
Obama instituted the rules in 2016 to help reduce methane emissions from power plants, which many scientists argue is primary driver of global warming. Republicans championed the ruling while environmentalists railed against the rollback.
“The previous administration scorned domestic energy development and crafted the prior rule to deliberately stifle it,” said Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. “This is a necessary step to promote investment in federal and tribal lands so that economies in the west can grow.”
Supporters for the natural gas industry, meanwhile, argue the rollback was necessary after recent reports appear to show emission levels declining in Texas, even as development continues expanding throughout the country.
“Today’s decision by the BLM comes in the wake of newly released federal data show venting and flaring emissions are already declining, even without costly rules from Washington,” Steve Everley, a spokesman with Texans for Natural Gas, said in a statement.
He was referring to a report in January that showed methane emissions in Texas’ biggest oil and gas-producing counties cratered between 2011 and 2016. Emissions dropped over 211,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) during that five-year period, according to an analysis from Texans for Energy.
Similar reduction levels were noted among the ten largest oil-producing counties.
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