Newest Environmental Concern About Pruitt——-New Methane Emissions Rules

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Another concern of environmentalists over Donald Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to take over at the Environmental Protection Agency is what might happen to the EPA’s aggressive steps of controlling and regulating methane emissions in the U.S.

They believe once Pruitt becomes the new Administrator of the EPA, he will target those steps of limiting emissions of the greenhouse gas from oil and gas operations as well as municipal landfills. They wonder—-will those rules remain in effect under Pruitt’s dominance at the EPA. But Pruitt might have an ally in Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, who is Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the Interior.

“The current nominee for EPA administrator has distinguished himself as acutely anti-environmental regulation, and during his time as Oklahoma attorney general curried favor with the worst of the worst of the oil and gas industry,” said Mark Brownstein, vice president of climate and energy at the Environmental Defense Fund.

“If personality dictates policy, you have to expect the worst from an incoming administration,” he said in an interview with E and E, the website that covers Energy and the Environment.

 

The agency is still in the process of collecting information to regulate existing sources, according to EPA. The agency had previously set a target of completing a final rule by the end of 2017, though that has now been thrown into uncertainty.

In November, Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a final rule to limit the venting and flaring of methane across about 100,000 oil and gas wells on federal and tribal lands. The rule, which is an update on decades-old regulations and took the agency five years to finish, could prevent 175,000 to 180,000 tons of methane emissions per year, roughly equivalent to about 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to BLM.

Two industry groups, the Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), immediately sued, calling the rule “a vast overreach” of Interior’s regulatory authority.

Last month, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota also filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Wyoming, asking the court to set aside the rule on the grounds that regulating methane falls outside BLM’s authority.

California and New Mexico requested to join the case on the side of the agency under the CRA. Furthermore, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Interior Department, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), has come out strongly against the agency’s methane regulations, saying the rule “does nothing to further protect our resources.”

“Instead, the BLM has issued a duplicative and unnecessary rule against responsible oil and gas development in Montana and on sovereign tribal lands,” he said.

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