Insane in the Methane: Trump scraps rules on natural gas leaks


Bad news for those concerned about climate change:

The Trump administration is scrapping limits on methane leaks, allowing oil and gas companies to decide how much of the potent greenhouse gas can escape into the atmosphere from wells, pipelines and storage tanks.

The new rules, issued Thursday by the Office of Management and Budget, effectively rescind the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate methane, the largest component of natural gas. Although it dissipates faster than carbon dioxide, methane is estimated to be at least 25 times and as much as 80 times more potent in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Just a clarification: Methane doesn't actually "dissipate," it converts to carbon dioxide after about nine years of exposure to oxygen. But during that short atmospheric life cycle, it traps heat like a bandit. Which helps trigger the dissolution of methane clathrates in the oceans and permafrost, putting even more methane into the atmosphere. It's a perfect climate change storm, and Trump is pulling all the stops out:

The Trump administration has sought since 2019 to eliminate methane limitations because many of the small- and medium-sized companies in the oil and gas business — among the president’s ardent supporters — want to reduce the cost of complying with regulations. The American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America said their members could still choose whether to further reduce emissions.

Environmental groups and some lawmakers denounced the administration’s move.

“I can’t think of a worse policy decision for the American environment and the global climate risk,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said in an interview. King, who helped found the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, said capturing methane emissions could be done at “a modest cost for a gigantic benefit.”

Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has pledged “on day one” to require “aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council said Thursday that it will launch a legal challenge. “We will see EPA in court,” said David Doniger, head of climate policy at the NRDC.

More power to the NRDC. And while I shudder at any Presidential candidate who says, "on day one" (that shit never happens of course), it's plain that Joe Biden understands how important this is. The well-being of the entire world hinges upon this election, not just our own country's.