Act Now to Stop Weakening of EPA’s “Methane Rule”

EPA succumbs to White House and fossil fuel industry pressure to put protection of our health and our planet on the chopping block

Under pressure from the White House, on October 15, 2018, EPA granted the fossil fuel industry’s wish and published proposed revisions to standards that control methane emissions from oil and gas production. The proposed rollback, which would significantly weaken Obama-era requirements, is part of a larger effort to dismantle greenhouse gas rules for the booming industry. The proposed amendment is just one of a series of regulatory rollbacks aimed at greenhouse gases, including Trump administration moves to weaken the Clean Power Plan and vehicle emissions standards.

We need your voice! Tell EPA you oppose the proposed amendment of its new source performance standards before the comment deadline on December 17, 2018. Comments can be submitted electronically, or by email, fax or mail. Find a comment template below.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas—84 times as potent as carbon dioxide in driving climate change over the short term—which routinely leaks from oil and gas wells and is responsible for up to a quarter of the planet’s warming. According to EPA, the oil and gas industry is the largest emitter of methane in the U.S., responsible for up to 31% of all methane emissions. Moreover, recent research has found that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are about 60% higher than EPA has previously estimated. EPA’s own 2018 GHG Inventory shows that oil and gas industrial facilities emit at least 8.1 million metric tons of methane pollution each year, with the same climate impacts as 150 coal-fired power plants operating for a year.

Given this, curbing the industry’s rogue releases of methane, such as flaring and venting natural gas from oil wells, would appear to be an exceptionally cost-effective way to curb climate change. The Clean Air Task Force estimated that current EPA new source standards, if left in place, would prevent 1.5 million tons of methane pollution in 2025 alone. If the Trump administration is successful in slashing large portions of the rule, unnecessary methane pollution will warm the planet at a significantly faster rate, undercutting, if not eliminating, any climate benefit of natural gas over coal.

EPA itself has acknowledged that its rulemaking would increase greenhouse gas emissions and would likely degrade air quality and harm public health. Oil and gas methane pollution standards are commonsense safeguards that help keep our air clean and our families healthier. Now, President Trump and EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler want to give their friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to put our health and planet in danger by recklessly rolling back these protections. The proposed gutting of EPA’s commonsense methane pollution standards is an attack on our environment which prioritizes oil and gas industry profits over the health and safety of our communities across the country. This puts lives at risk—exposure to harmful air pollution from the oil and gas industry can increase risk of asthma attacks and cancer—and will also exacerbate the harmful impacts of climate change.

We need your voice! Together, we can stop the Trump administration from putting the interests of the oil and gas industry over the needs of our families. Our health and the future of our planet are on the line.

Tell EPA you oppose the proposed amendment of its new source performance standards before the comment deadline on December 17, 2018. Comments can be submitted electronically, or by email, fax or mail.

Here is a template to get you started:

I am submitting these comments to express my concerns about EPA’s proposed amendment of its New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that regulate fugitive emissions, including methane, from oil and gas equipment. I oppose this move to gut the EPA’s methane pollution standards. Rather than weakening these critical protections, or provide other loopholes for the oil and gas industry to continue emitting harmful pollutants, we need the EPA to strengthen requirements for oil and gas companies to regularly check for and repair leaking equipment. Americans depend on the EPA to protect us from the harmful pollution that makes it harder to breathe. We need the EPA to fulfill its mission to “protect human health and the environment” and not let polluters play fast and loose with our children’s health.

It is EPA’s obligation to protect all Americans from harmful methane pollution. Any attempt to dismantle standards that require oil and gas companies to employ commonsense and cost-effective solutions to reduce methane emissions is a direct assault on our health and environment—in which the Environmental Protection Agency should not be complicit. EPA’s own analysis found that its 2016 final oil and gas methane standards would achieve significant reductions of methane and other harmful air pollution at low cost. The current standards need to be kept strong and in place to protect communities in my state from the immediate air quality impacts of rapidly expanding oil and gas infrastructure and methane pollution fueling climate change.

EPA has the responsibility to protect Americans from the clear and present health threats from oil and gas pollution, and its weakening of these rules is, in particular, an attack on communities located near these facilities who depend on these protections. In addition, this proposed rule is bad for Americans who are bearing the increasing costs of climate change impacts. This a lose-lose proposal for the health of our children and communities and for the future of our planet. EPA should listen to the majority of Americans who are demanding that EPA keep methane rules strong and intact. For these reasons, I urge you not to finalize the proposed revisions to the NSPS performance standards.



Image by Tim Evanson

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