Trump has pushed to open vast expanses of USA wilderness and coastline to oil and gas drilling, speed construction of petroleum pipelines and ease regulations on the industry, dismissing calls from scientists in and out of government for rapid cuts in oil, gas and coal emissions to stave off the worst of climate change.
It's about whether or not the Obama-era rules overstep their legal boundaries.
Dominant greenhouse gases released into the Earth's atmosphere - carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - have reached record levels in 2018, and their global warming power is now 43% stronger than in 1990, according to a new report by the American Meteorological Society released Monday. "The more gas we keep in our pipes and equipment, the more we can provide to the market - and the faster we can all move toward a lower-carbon future".
"Selling mature oil and gas fields to smaller, independent companies planning to squeeze out more is a standard part of the development cycle". Thursday's proposal is expected repeal those regulations and exempt existing oil and gas operations from methane limits.
Darin Schroeder, an attorney with the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group, hinted at a lawsuit. According to the EPA, the proposal will save the oil and gas industry $17 to $19 million a year.
The proposal 'removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry, ' EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.
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"The Trump administration's proposal to erase methane monitoring requirements for oil and gas companies demonstrates a profound ignorance of climate change and the state of methane monitoring technology today".
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said easing the 2016 regulation - created during the administration of former US President Barack Obama - would save energy companies up to $123m through 2025.
"We believe sound environmental policies are foundational to the vital role natural gas can play in the energy transition and have made clear our support of 2016 law to regulate methane from new and modified onshore sources", Watkins said. It would also rescind emissions limits on methane from the production and processing steps.
"This proposal is a blatant attempt to give oil and gas companies yet another free pass to release as much harmful air pollution as they want while the public pays the price", Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
"We don't preclude anyone from going above and beyond if that's the thing that they need to do from a business and a compliance standpoint", said Anne Idsal, the EPA's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, in response to Shell's comments on a conference call with reporters Thursday. The agency also said it will hold a public hearing on the proposal at a time and in a place yet to be announced.
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