New rollback for climate-changing releases from oilfields

  • New rollback for climate-changing releases from oilfields

New rollback for climate-changing releases from oilfields

President Donald Trump insists he is an environmentalist, but the move is his administration's latest easing of environmental rules, including many put forth by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Oil and gas companies may face far looser oversight of emissions of potent climate-changing methane gas under a proposal expected from the Trump administration as soon as Thursday, oil industry and environmental groups said. The proposals made today are separate from and in addition to a 2018 proposed rule that eased methane reporting and monitoring requirements for oil- and gas-extraction businesses. The Trump administration has taken several steps to limit the government's ability to regulate climate pollutants in the future, including in a recently-finalized rule curbing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The agency estimates the proposed changes, which will be subject to public comment for 60 days after they are published, would save the oil and natural gas industry between $17 million and $19 million a year.

Environmentalists have vowed to sue the administration over the proposal.

Shell U.S. told the Washington Post it would continue to work toward its goal of reducing its methane leaks to less than 0.2 percent by 2025. "Despite the administration's proposal to no longer regulate methane, Shell's US assets will continue to contribute to that global target". At least one study has found that the EPA likely dramatically underestimates how much methane is released in the production of oil and natural gas.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the plan would also stop legal requirements that force the EPA to set rules on emissions from pre-existing well and industry sites. The removal of methane emissions caps would, however, save the oil and natural gas sector $17-$19 million per year ($97-$123 million by 2025), the EPA estimates, or about 0.07% of the USA industry's $28 billion net income for 2018.

Exxon Mobil also supports federal regulation of methane from oil and gas sources.

Environmentalists threatened to fight the Trump administration's move in court.

In 2016, Obama's EPA had issued the first rule limiting methane emissions from new oil and gas fracking operations, including transport equipment. "The EPA is now so determined to actually increase greenhouse pollution that it's even shrugging off concerns from oil and gas companies about gutting these protections".

The proposed plan (PDF) would "rescind emissions limits for methane from the production and processing segments of the industry", the EPA says.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it seeks to loosen regulations to save the natural gas industry "millions of dollars in compliance costs each year - while maintaining health and environmental regulations on oil and gas sources that the agency considers appropriate".