EPA Weakens Obama Administration Methane Pollution Regulations

by Kaushal Kumar

Over the past year, the Trump Administration’s EPA has been working on a rule to weaken the current laws that place heavy regulations on the amount of methane that energy companies can release into the atmosphere while forcing them to make sure they repair faulty infrastructure and maintain low levels of pollution. These old regulations were put into place by the Obama Administration and were meant to combat climate change through regulation of the fossil fuel industry. However, the EPA claims that these rules are greatly “harmful to small and medium businesses”, as it is very expensive to maintain pipes, storage facilities, and wells to ensure that they are not leaking gas into the air. The newest ruling eliminates that federal requirement, allowing businesses to not have to monitor methane pollution that may be coming from their pipes or other buildings.

This is just one of the many rulings that the EPA has made in favor of the American fossil fuel industry. Earlier this summer, the EPA passed a ruling that is meant to speed up the process of building energy infrastructure by shortening the time needed to get all required permits to build. This choice was highly controversial and was opposed by many who claim, “the decision curtail the public’s right to have a say in the development of pipelines and other projects in their neighborhoods.”

Methane gas pollution is a major cause of global warming and its impact on the atmosphere is estimated to be around 84 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Methane is also the driving factor for approximately 25% of total global warming over the last few decades, with at least a third of that coming from the US energy industry. With the newest regulations brought in by the EPA, experts only expect this number to rise, drawing serious concerns about the world’s future battle against climate change.

Even though the rulings seem favorable to the fossil fuel industry, many large companies have spoken out against the rulings citing their own pledges to fight against climate change and reduce their methane pollution. Smaller companies are happier with the decision, claiming that the old regulations were too restrictive and are especially happy to see something go their way with the recent drop in oil and gas prices during the pandemic.