In his Hardcore History podcasts, Dan Carlin presents himself, not as a historian, but as a journalist who likes history. Herein is my attempt to present yours truly, not as an environmental lawyer, but as a trial lawyer with an interest in energy policy. Therefore, here are differing assessments of the Trump EPA’s rollback of the Obama EPA’s methane regulations.
Producers: “Regs bad, industry good; we’re saving the planet.”
Enviros: “Regs good, industry bad; you’re poisoning the planet.”
Read more and decide for yourself
The Deseret News opines: We don’t need more regulations on oil and gas development. Methane emissions over the past several years have declined while production has increased. This is not because of regulations, but due to technological advancements and proactive industry mitigation efforts. There are facts and figures about reduced methane emissions from venting and flaring despite increases oil production.
The National Wildlife Foundation, in 2016, reported on the perils of methane pollution from oil and gas operations.
Texans for Natural Gas blames emissions on governmental delays in pipeline approvals; venting is necessary to prevent pressure buildups that could pose a hazard to workers.
Reuters says: According to the EPA the proposed Rule changes will save the industry $75 million per year between 2019 and 2025 while increasing methane emissions. Methane accounts for 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions and has more than 80 times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it escapes. The oil and gas sector is the single largest source of methane emissions, and emissions will increase by a total of 380,000 short tons between 2019 and 2025, compared to the Obama era Rule would have prevented emissions of 300,000 short tons in 2020.
Environmental Law at Harvard lists the lawsuits involving the BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule and Trump’s efforts to delay, suspend or roll it back.
XTO and Exxon say: They’ve expanded their methane emissions reduction initiative and participated in studies with the Environmental Defense Fund. XTO has been utilizing reduced emission completions (where well flowback emissions are captured or burned off by flaring) prior to the regulations. (But see the EDF’s point: Smaller producers won’t be such responsible citizens.)
The Society of Petroleum Engineers describes, among other methane issues, actions by 13 states to form the U. S. Climate Alliance after the U S abandoned the Paris Climate Accord. (So maybe federalizing everything isn’t the answer.)
Akin Gump, the law firm, presents details of the proposed rollback well.
The Environmental Defense Fund evaluates major producers’ efforts to reduce methane emissions. In other posts it says the rollback caters to the worst- run oil and gas companies
Nature magazine says: The new Rule proposes a reduction in the frequency of emissions-monitoring from twice a year to once every year or two. Compression facilities could see monitoring frequencies reduced from four times a year to once or twice a year. Companies would have have 60 days rather than 30 to repair leaks.
Forbes sees another source of pressure on producers to lower methane: Investors.