The Trump administration on Tuesday rolled back methane standards for energy companies that operate on public lands, eliminating a major rule enacted during the Obama administration.
The Bureau of Land Management rescinded a rule meant to curb methane emissions from fossil fuel development. Enacted in 2016, the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule regulates leaked, flared and vented natural gas from fossil fuel operations on public land.
The revision was expected, as the Department of the Interior indicated since August that a rule change was looming. BLM expects that rolling back the methane rule will result in a net savings of $1 billion over the course of a decade for oil and gas companies.
“Today’s announcement fulfills the promise made by the Trump administration to remove regulatory hurdles on domestic energy production,” House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop said in a statement. “The previous rule was founded on questionable legal theory and resulted in unnecessary costs. This regulatory decision by the Trump administration improves environmental outcomes without negative economic impact.”
The American Petroleum Institute (API) — the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry — also welcomed the new revisions, calling them “smart” and “cost effective.” API noted that, because of technological innovations, methane emissions in the U.S. have dropped, while natural gas production has increased. (RELATED: Trump Is Taking Another Crack At Dramatically Weakening Obama-Era Methane Rules)
However, not everyone celebrated the change.
“The Trump administration is relentless in its push to give the oil and gas industry multi-million-dollar handouts at the expense of Americans’ health and environment,” a senior strategic director at the National Resources Defense Council, David Doniger, said in a statement. Doniger said his organization will continue to battle the Trump administration in court over their deregulation agenda.
Rescission of the methane rule marks the latest in a growing list of environmental roll backs undertaken by the Trump administration, most of them originating from the Obama White House.
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