Trump Is Taking Another Crack At Dramatically Weakening Obama-Era Methane Rules

Chris White | Energy Reporter

The Trump administration is trying for the third time this year to weaken environmental rules his predecessor crafted to regulate methane emissions, The New York Times reported Monday.

The EPA will soon make public plans to lessening the impact of a rule requiring companies to monitor and repair methane leaks, according to documents cited in the report. The Interior Department will also release a final version of a draft rule repealing a restriction on the venting and “flaring” of methane.

Former agency officials criticized the mood. “They’re taking them down, one by one,” =top climate and clean-air regulator during the Obama administration, told reporters. Methane is more than 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, despite making up only nine percent of all greenhouse gasses.

Energy analysts, meanwhile, praised the rule. (RELATED: Trump Guts Obama-Era Methane Rules To ‘Allow Job Growth In Rural America’)

Former President Barack Obama’s methane rule “was the definition of red tape. It was a record-keeping nightmare that was technically impossible to execute in the field,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an association of independent oil and gas companies based in Colorado. The fracking industry is one Colorado’s main economic engines.

EPA’s new rules would weaken a 2016 rule requiring oil and gas drillers to perform leak inspections every six months on drilling equipment, as well as repair leaks within a month. The amendment would lengthen that to once a year in most cases, the report states. It would also increase the amount of time a company could wait before repairing a methane leak from 30 to 60 days.

President Donald Trump has sought ways to ding several of Obama’s major environmental regulations. The agency proposed repealing a rule on carbon dioxide pollution from vehicle tailpipes in July. The EPA, under the guidance of former Administrator Scott Pruitt, proposed replacing the rule on carbon dioxide pollution with a weaker one that would free up coal power plants to produce energy through looser regulations.

EPA officials believe the new rule would recoup the costs the Obama-era regulation imposed on oil and gas companies. The regulation would have cost companies about $530 million throughout the next five years. Trump’s new rule would save the oil and gas industry $484 million by the same year.

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