Trump administration methane regulation rollback is catastrophic for climate

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to loosen lethal methane emission regulations for the oil and gas industry in a bid to further curry favour with the sector ahead of this year’s Presidential elections.

The rollback would weaken the Obama-era rules requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and fix points where methane leaks from wells and other infrastructure. It would result in an additional and preventable 4.5 million metric tonnes of methane pollution each year, according to advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). 

Unless there is a Democratic majority in the Senate this coming election cycle, this plan, along with many others under the Trump administration to weaken federal climate policy, will become a reality.

It will also set the worst possible example for developing countries looking to the US to lead on ambitious climate policy and make it impossible for the US to get anywhere near targets set in the Paris Agreement aimed at preventing runaway climate change.

The EPA argues the new rules will make it “simpler and less burdensome” and save small and mid-sized companies money. But several leading oil and gas companies have opposed the move, knowing the likelihood of these fossil fuels remaining the main energy sources for the next century is implausible.

In addition, the economic benefit for smaller and mid-sized energy companies will not outweigh the effects of global methane emissions on people and the planet. Deregulation may therefore have a hard time standing up in court. EDF President Fred Krupp said that the organisation planned to sue the Trump administration over the rollback.

Who will be hit hardest?

Methane emissions – the second largest driver of human-made climate change after CO2 –causes approximately 165,000 premature deaths globally each year.

Not only do they radically exacerbate climate change but they form a kind of ground level ozone, or smog, which causes respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Because of where these power plants are situated, the effects of methane emissions are disproportionately found in lower-income communities and communities of colour, which are often the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Commenting on the draft proposal Drew Shindell, an earth science professor at Duke University said: “While this rule hurts all of us, it will disproportionately impact Black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities, again putting those Americans most impacted by environmental racism at risk of dying prematurely from air pollution.”

Mustafa Santiago Ali, the National Wildlife Federation’s vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization called the move “another example of how this administration creates sacrifice zones across our country.” 

Take Action

We have reached a juncture where nothing is more important than climate change. Political candidates who do not put this first must be overlooked whatever your voting history or instinctive persuasion.

This type of political corruption and racial injustice does not need to happen if we vote for those who put the planet and our future before their vested financial interests.

With less than ten years left to avert runaway climate change, the 2020 US Presidential Election has the potential to make or break the future of this planet. If you live in the US, you can make sure you are ready to vote via VOTE.ORG

Click here for more information on using your power as a citizen.

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