Weakening current methane standards will result in more air pollution from more than 36,000 oil and gas wells around U.S.


Washington (September 11, 2018) – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to roll back the 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas industry, which reduce the emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the global warming damage of carbon dioxide. With the current standards in place, the United States will see reductions in harmful air pollutants – cutting 21,635 tons of methane, around 6,000 tons of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and 450,000 pounds of toxic air pollutants each year. This latest environmental attack comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s announcement to weaken rules for power plants, which would increase carbon and hazardous pollutant emissions and cause more than 1,400 additional deaths per year. 


“The Trump administration’s toxic trifecta is complete, and it will be the environment and our public health that pay the price for this hazardous hat trick,” said Senator Markey, chair of the Senate Climate Task Force and member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Alongside the weakening of rules to reduce carbon emissions and mercury, the roll-back of the methane standards will result in more toxic chemicals and pollution in our air and water, making our families and children sicker. It will also force consumers to pay more for the costs of leaking oil and gas equipment. This is nothing more than a fossil fuel freebie, giving the oil and gas sector yet another handout to pollute our bodies and the planet.”


Recent reports indicate that the Department of Interior will later this month repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste and Prevention Rule. Like the Fuel Loss Abatement and Royalty Enhancement (FLARE) Act introduced by Senator Markey, this rule was created to minimize the venting and flaring of methane in oil and gas production operations. Before this rule was put in place in 2016, oil and gas companies wasted enough natural gas from 2009-2015 to supply more than 6.2 million homes for an entire year. Since development of this rule began in 2013, almost $2 billion worth of American taxpayer-owned natural gas on public lands has been wasted largely due to avoidable leaks, flaring, and intentional releases of methane.