The EPA has a chance to crack down on methane pollution and reverse the Biden Administration’s terrible track record (so far) on fossil fuels
Biden’s failures are numerous: They permitted 34% more oil and gas drilling in their first year than Trump; the Department of Energy is investing billions of dollars in false solutions like “clean” coal and gas; and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week decided that even when fossil fuel projects are approved for the wrong reasons and lead to pollution and racism, they still won’t act to stop them.
But there is one agency that’s at least working on the right problems: namely how to reduce pollution and make it harder for fossil fuel drilling, pipelines, and other infrastructure to operate — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Every year, leaking oil and gas infrastructure emits of millions of tons of fracked gas methane, creating a public health and climate emergency.
Leaking wells and pipelines release toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and particulate matter that sicken and kill people. And because methane is up to 80 times more potent at warming our climate than carbon dioxide, it’s a huge driver of climate change too. As if the health and climate issues weren’t enough, leaking methane is incredibly flammable – and one spark can cause a serious fire or explosion.
That’s why EPA administrators have been trying to crack down on methane leaks and pollution for years. Donald Trump rolled back even the modest protections President Obama had put in place, so now Biden’s EPA has proposed reinstating rules to reduce methane emissions from both existing and new wells and infrastructure nationwide.
But, the EPA rules proposed don’t go far enough – they’re more of a re-set of the old Obama rules than an update that reflects the current state of climate emergency. And even those weak measures are drawing strong opposition from the oil and gas industry, and their political allies.