Friday July 3rd, 2020 10:29PM

Trump rollback would ease rules on climate-changing methane

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration moved closer Tuesday to rolling back Obama-era rules reducing oil and gas industry leaks of methane gas, one of the most potent agents of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency formally released its proposed substitute for a 2016 Obama administration rule that aimed to step up detection and elimination of methane leaks at well sites and other oil and gas facilities. The agency's move is part of a broad Trump administration effort to undo President Barack Obama's legacy programs to fight climate change by cutting emissions from oil, gas and coal.

The EPA's proposal Tuesday conceded that relaxing the Obama-era rule for methane leaks at oil and gas sites would put an additional 380,000 tons (350,000 metric tons) of methane into the atmosphere from 2019 to 2025. The amount is roughly equivalent to more than 30 million tons (27 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide, another fossil-fuel emission that receives far more attention in efforts to slow climate change.

The EPA noted that overall increased pollution as a result of its proposal "may also degrade air quality and adversely affect health and welfare." Relaxing federal oversight will save $75 million in regulatory costs annually, the agency said.

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, a Colorado-based group that represents more than 300 companies, said the proposed changes make the EPA rule more efficient and workable. The previous rule was overly burdensome and "full of red tape. This rule cleans that up, makes it more practical" for industry to comply, Sgamma said in an interview.

Oil and gas drillers have "a four-decade long trend to reduce emissions," and the new EPA rules recognize that reality, Sgamma said, adding that she hopes an Interior rule to be finalized in coming days will show a similar practical streak. The pending rule by the Bureau of Land Management applies to fracking sites on public lands.

Environmentalists contend energy companies already have demonstrated they can comply with tougher monitoring and that only poorly operated companies were having trouble with the new requirements.

"Once again, the Trump administration is putting the interests of the worst-operated oil and gas companies ahead of the health and welfare of everyday Americans," said Matt Watson, an associate vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California on Tuesday told a meeting in San Francisco ahead of a climate conference there that President Donald Trump's proposal to ease monitoring of methane releases is "insane" and "borders on criminality."

"It perhaps is the most obvious and dangerous and irresponsible action by Mr. Trump — and that's saying quite a lot," Brown said.

The EPA under Obama completed the existing rule in May 2016, and it took effect that August. Industry groups pushed the EPA to reconsider, and the Trump administration put parts of it on hold in May 2017.

The rule was reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., last year after environmental groups sued, and it remains in effect, according to the EPA.

Tuesday's action opens a 60-day period for public comment ahead of any final decision by the Trump administration.

In North Dakota, the nation's biggest oil-producing state after Texas, drillers scaled back production for a time this summer to keep so-called flaring — burning off of methane and other gases pumped up as waste byproducts with the oil — within state limits.

North Dakota Air Quality Director Terry O'Clair said the state typically adopts "nothing more stringent than the federal rules." State officials would reconsider their recently toughened rules on oilfield gas leaks if federal officials loosen theirs, he said.


Brown reported from Billings, Montana. Matthew Daly in Washington, James MacPherson in Bismarck, N.D., and Juliet Williams in San Francisco also contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Mahomes throws 6 TDs, Chiefs hold off Steelers 42-37
Patrick Mahomes throws for 6 touchdowns as Kansas City Chiefs hold off Pittsburgh Steelers 42-37
6:13PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Dixon eyes 5th IndyCar championship in season finale
Scott Dixon goes for a fifth IndyCar championship in the season finale at Sonoma Raceway
6:05PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Flooding fears surge as rivers rise; Wilmington cut off
Catastrophic flooding from Florence is spreading across the Carolinas, and the city of Wilmington is virtually cut off by the deluge
6:00PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Woman who accused Kavanaugh has come forward
The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were teens has come forward.
5:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Democrat says Kavanaugh accuser is courageous
A House Democrat from California says she's "grateful" the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school has the courage to tell her story
4:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct comes forward
The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were in high school has come forward, alleging in an interview that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and clumsily tried to remove her clothing.
4:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: 16th death blamed on Hurricane Florence
Officials have confirmed a 16th death attributed to Florence
5:23PM ( 55 minutes ago )
The Latest: Floodwater up to doorsteps in S. Carolina town
Tropical Depression Florence has picked up speed as it continues dumping heavy rains over the Carolinas
5:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Flash-flood emergency in NC county
The National Weather Service has declared a flash-flood emergency for part of the county that is home to North Carolina's biggest city
3:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Investigator: No evidence gas explosions intentional
A federal investigator says there's no evidence to suggest the gas explosions that rocked communities north of Boston were intentional.
6:12PM ( 1 day ago )
Egypt court returns ex-president Mubarak's 2 sons to prison
Egyptian court sends Mubarak's 2 sons back to prison in with inside trading charges
12:05PM ( 1 day ago )
Seahawks sign LB Mychal Kendricks despite legal troubles
The Seattle Seahawks signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks despite his recent guilty plea on insider trading charges
7:43PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
The Latest: Regulators monitoring hog, poultry farms
North Carolina state regulators and environmental groups are monitoring the threat from hog and poultry farms in low-lying, flood-prone areas
12:07PM ( 6 hours ago )
Residents allowed to return to homes after gas explosions
Residents in communities north of Boston that were rocked by natural gas explosions have been given the green light to return home
11:15AM ( 7 hours ago )
Huge squirrel population chomps crops, driving farmers nuts
Farmers in New England are getting harassed by bumper crop of squirrels
10:47AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: Forecast: Florence threat continues overnight
Tropical Storm Florence is crawling slowly across South Carolina as life-threatening storm surges and strong winds are expected to continue overnight; rising inland flood threat
11:03PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: North Carolina city gets 23 inches of rain
One city in North Carolina has picked up more than 23 inches of rain in two days from Tropical Storm Florence
10:09PM ( 1 day ago )
Everyone wants answers: State, feds hunt for gas blast cause
Investigators are working to pinpoint the cause of a series of fiery natural gas explosions that killed a teenager, injured at least 25 others and left dozens of homes in smoldering ruins
9:56PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Flooding fears surge as rivers rise; Wilmington cut off
Catastrophic flooding from Florence is spreading across the Carolinas, and the city of Wilmington is virtually cut off by the deluge
6:00PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Swollen NC rivers swamp dumps, raising water pollution fears
As rain from Florence lash the Carolinas, the region's swollen rivers begin to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms amid escalating pollution concerns
5:55PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Rains from Florence cause collapse at NC coal ash landfill
Duke Energy says heavy rains from Florence caused a slope to collapse at a coal-ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast
5:48PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Succop kicks 31-yard field goal as Titans edge Texans 20-17
Ryan Succop kicks 31-yard field goal as Tennessee Titans edge Houston Texans 20-17
5:43PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Official: Pressure sensors focus of gas explosions probe
Federal officials say the investigation into the Boston-area natural gas explosions is partially focused on pressure sensors that were connected to a gas line that was being taken out of service shortly before the blasts
5:41PM ( 38 minutes ago )