EPA Proposes Methane Emissions Rollback⁠—Oil and Gas Industry Not Entirely in Favor

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Methane emissions account for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gases, which the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor to.

Methane emissions account for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gases, to which the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor.

Corbis via Getty Images

Topline: In another Trump administration deregulatory move, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted a proposal to roll back Obama-era rules governing methane emissions, which scientists agree contribute to climate change⁠—but some companies that would benefit from the rule change actually oppose it.

  • First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the proposed rule change would let companies opt out of installing new technology to monitor methane emissions from storage tanks, pipelines and wells.
  • The EPA proposal calls for regulating volatile organic compounds instead, which could lessen an unspecified amount of methane emissions.
  • Companies have marketed natural gas as a “cleaner” alternative to coal, and those that don’t want the new rules, like BP, Exxon and Shell, are worried gas would be seen as dirtier if enacted.
  • Some companies do support the new rule, but it’s unclear if the oil and gas industry will remain split on it moving forward. 
  • Methane, according to scientists, is 80 times more heat-trapping over a 20-year period of being in the Earth’s atmosphere, compared to carbon dioxide over the same period. 
  • And methane emissions account for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gases, to which the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor.

Surprising fact: Methane emits as much greenhouse gas as 69 million cars⁠—25% of total cars in the U.S.⁠— according to the Wall Street Journal.

What to watch for: Any legal challenges to the proposed rule. Oil and gas companies are worried that the time and money spent fighting the new rule in court would offset or delay any cost savings the rollback would provide. The rule change must go through a six-month public comment period and review before being enacted, which could be next year.

Key background: Environmental deregulation is a big part of President Trump’s platform. And this isn’t the first time a methane rollback has been attempted. In 2017, EPA chief Scott Pruitt tried to suspend the regulation, but a federal court ruled against it.

Tangent: This also isn’t the first time companies that would benefit from Trump deregulation have instead opposed it. A proposed rollback of Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards was met with resistance from manufacturers like Ford and Volkswagen. They sided with California and 13 other states maintaining Obama’s rules on fuel efficiency. 

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Topline: In another Trump administration deregulatory move, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted a proposal to roll back Obama-era rules governing methane emissions, which scientists agree contribute to climate change⁠—but some companies that would benefit from the rule change actually oppose it.

  • First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the proposed rule change would let companies opt out of installing new technology to monitor methane emissions from storage tanks, pipelines and wells.
  • The EPA proposal calls for regulating volatile organic compounds instead, which could lessen an unspecified amount of methane emissions.
  • Companies have marketed natural gas as a “cleaner” alternative to coal, and those that don’t want the new rules, like BP, Exxon and Shell, are worried gas would be seen as dirtier if enacted.
  • Some companies do support the new rule, but it’s unclear if the oil and gas industry will remain split on it moving forward. 
  • Methane, according to scientists, is 80 times more heat-trapping over a 20-year period of being in the Earth’s atmosphere, compared to carbon dioxide over the same period. 
  • And methane emissions account for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gases, to which the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor.

Surprising fact: Methane emits as much greenhouse gas as 69 million cars⁠—25% of total cars in the U.S.⁠— according to the Wall Street Journal.

What to watch for: Any legal challenges to the proposed rule. Oil and gas companies are worried that the time and money spent fighting the new rule in court would offset or delay any cost savings the rollback would provide. The rule change must go through a six-month public comment period and review before being enacted, which could be next year.

Key background: Environmental deregulation is a big part of President Trump’s platform. And this isn’t the first time a methane rollback has been attempted. In 2017, EPA chief Scott Pruitt tried to suspend the regulation, but a federal court ruled against it.

Tangent: This also isn’t the first time companies that would benefit from Trump deregulation have instead opposed it. A proposed rollback of Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards was met with resistance from manufacturers like Ford and Volkswagen. They sided with California and 13 other states maintaining Obama’s rules on fuel efficiency. 


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Newsrust: EPA Proposes Methane Emissions Rollback⁠—Oil and Gas Industry Not Entirely in Favor
EPA Proposes Methane Emissions Rollback⁠—Oil and Gas Industry Not Entirely in Favor
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