EPA ignores tribal opposition to methane rollback


The Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to reduce or remove requirements for oil and gas companies to monitor and mitigate methane releases is being fought by Native American tribes in New Mexico.

Their focus of the fight is in northwest New Mexico—-better known as the Four Corners Region. Four Corners has the highest concentration of methane emissions in the U.S. and the tribes see the rollback of emissions rules only exacerbating the problem.

In San Juan County, more than half of the Native American population lives within a half-mile of an oil and gas production site. Since the new rule only covers new development, it leaves existing infrastructure unregulated.

Methane emissions have significant health impacts, especially during a pandemic that affects the respiratory system. Exposure to pollutants like particulate matter and ozone is linked to worse health outcomes from COVID-19.

Despite the Navajo Nation experiencing one of the highest concentrations of the virus and a higher per capita death rate than any state, the EPA has ignored requests to delay the rule-making until acceptable consultation can occur, and plans to finalize the rule later this month.

Source: Center for Western Priorities