Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trump hasn't forgotten about his war on the environment

Lest you might think that Donald Trump is going soft on the environment amid all the other shenanigans he is currently embroiled in, be comforted to know that he us still finding time to dial back more of Barack Obama's environmental and climate change initiatives.
The latest such is rolling back an Obama-era rule that forces energy companies to capture methane for natural gas production rather than just venting it to the atmosphere. Actually, the 2016 rule has never been fully implemented as it has been tied up in court cases brought by energy companies who see the rule as overly intrusive, and a Wyoming court (well, it would be Wyoming, wouldn't it?) put the rule on hold in April of this year. The energy companies argue that they already have an economic incentive to capture the methane so that they can sell it, and so more regulations are not needed.
Except ... they are clearly not taking up those economic incentives. The regulation would have cut methane emissions (one of the major contributors to climate change) in the US by over 180,000 tons a year, as well as up to 80,000 tons a year of other "volatile organic compounds", which are known to cause health problems when ingested. It would also have saved the energy companies an estimated $734 million in saved gas over the next decade, which would have offset their $2 billion compliance costs. A Trump spokesman remarked, pithily, "We're for clean air and water, but at the same time, we're for reasonable regulations". Hmmm.
Mr. Trump's buddies in the energy industry will no doubt thank him. The environment? Not so much.

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