The proposed rule change reflects the Trump administration view that the government overstepped its authority with mandates during the Obama administration that oil and gas companies take steps to repair methane leaks, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the rollback.
“The purpose of this rule is to get to the fundamental basis of whether [methane] should have been regulated in the first place,” Anne Idsal, the acting assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, told the Journal. “It’s not about whether we’re doing the maximum we can or should do to deal with” climate change.
Idsal added that she doesn’t believe “that there’s going to be some big climate concern here.”
Many others ― including some oil and gas companies ― would disagree.
“This is extraordinarily harmful,” Rachel Kyte, the United Nations special representative on sustainable energy, told The New York Times. “Just at a time when the federal government’s job should be to help localities and states move faster toward cleaner energy and a cleaner economy, just at that moment when speed and scale is what’s at stake, the government is walking off the field.”
Oil companies, including Shell, Exxon and BP America, have urged Trump’s administration to maintain or tighten methane regulations ― not loosen them, according to the Times.
Other industrial companies have opposed other Trump rollbacks of environmental regulations, including those aimed at curbing pollutants like mercury and auto emissions.
By easing regulations, the Trump administration hopes to boost crude oil and natural gas production, according to the Journal.
Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, slammed the methane rollback as “reckless” and evidence of “complete contempt for our climate” by Trump and his administration.
“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,” Siegel told The Washington Post. “Fracked gas is a climate killer, and Trump’s rash embrace of this dirty stuff showcases the need for the next president to commit to a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.”