It should come as no surprise by now that the objective of President Donald Trump’s new cabinet is to unravel and de-legitimize vital federal programs that regulate standards on industry and protect our natural resources. The GOP-controlled Congress is all too happy to go along with this, of course, since it fulfills an eight-year wish to strip away much of President Obama’s legacy.
As if we needed another reason to dread the positions coming out of the Trump White House, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced it was rescinding a request for oil and gas well operators to provide extensive information about their equipment and its methane emissions, undermining a key Obama administration climate change initiative.
Attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states wrote in a letter to the EPA:
“Information requests further the previous administration’s climate agenda and supports … the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous.”
New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, replied:
“Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry.”
Mark Brownstein, vice president of climate and energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, replied:
“With this action, Administrator Pruitt is effectively telling oil and gas companies to go ahead and withhold vital pollution data from the American public…This was a good faith effort on the part of the agency to collect additional information on oil and gas industry operations and the pollution that comes from them. [Now], it’s a complete lack of transparency.”
Through the Congressional Review Act, Congress is acting to dismantle an Interior Department regulation that would have restricted methane emissions from wells drilled on public lands.
Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said:
“The exercise imposed significant costs on companies to produce additional paperwork and added unnecessary burdens on producers’ technical teams to prepare and submit rushed comments under enormous time constraints.”
Make no mistake, this may be good for the fossil fuel industry, which has always sought an unfettered path to plundering the landscape purely for profit, but it could spell disaster for the environment, as it could result in the United States emitting more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in coming years. At the very least, it means the United States will not be tracking those emissions as closely.
Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said:
“The Trump administration doesn’t want this data because it doesn’t want to rein in oil companies’ massive emissions of this dangerous greenhouse gas.”
Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, responsible for about a quarter of global warming to date. Most methane reserves are sequestered in ice under the oceans, inert. However, as climate change increases ocean temperatures, methane reserves release, which then warms the atmosphere even more, causing more methane release, resulting in more warming, ad infinitum.
President Trump made it very clear on the campaign trail that, despite overwhelming scientific evidence confirming man-made global warming, he doesn’t believe in it. This latest move by his administration to unshackle the fossil fuel industry under the guise of “jobs” and “freedom” is not only shortsighted; it is dangerous. Once large quantities of methane start leaching into the atmosphere, it may spell disaster for all life on Earth, even human life.
Contact your lawmakers in the House and Senate, and tell them to protect us, not the fossil fuel industry’s bottom line. We have a right to know what they intend to do with the only planet we have. They have to live with the consequences too.
Featured image from RealDealDocs.com.