The Trump Administration’s Latest Methane Rule Rollback Is Bad For Life On Earth

The Trump administration made a move on Tuesday to roll back on an Obama-era rule that was enacted to prevent the leaking, venting, and flaring of methane gas during oil and gas operations on public lands.

Not only did the Obama-era rule aim to prevent the popular greenhouse gas from being thrown into the atmosphere but it also would have reduced waste to ensure a fair return to the American taxpayers for the use of the resource.

Methane Colorado
Natural gas is burned off near pumps in Watford City N.D. Credit: AP



The Trump administration’s Department of Interior stated that the Obama-era rules already overlapped with existing tribal land regulations.

However, the Bureau of Land Management, a department overseen by the Department of the Interior, estimated that the regulations would have eliminated 175,000 tons of methane emissions and saved state and federal governments almost $14 million in additional annual royalties.

“The flawed 2016 rule was a radical assertion of legal authority that stood in stark contrast to the longstanding understanding of Interior’s own lawyers,” said Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt.

Many tribal lands located next to oil and gas operations would be placed at a disproportionate health risk if air pollution isn’t reduced. Navajo Nation is 2 times more likely to be located within 1/2 mile of an oil and gas facility, and the Uintah-Ouray is 42 times more likely.

Radius Data: U.S. Census. 2010. Oil and gas facility data: Oil&Gas ThreatMap Poverty Data: American Community Survey. 2016. Credit: Tribal Communities at Risk

California and New Mexico have already sued the Trump administration over the rollback

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It has been estimated to have risen in concentration by 150 percent since 1750 due to human activities. A majority of methane comes from the decomposition of rice paddies, swamps and cow intestines.

Methane is a hydrocarbon that has the potential to react with Flouride and Chloride in the atmosphere in a radical chain mechanism that can result in the creation of holes in the earth’s ozone layer. This damage results in an increase of skin cancers and ecological damage.