Wildlife, Public Health Endangered with Methane Rule Suspension

At the urging of fossil fuel interests, on June 12, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a two-year suspension or “stay” of core components of its 2016 final rule to curb methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities.  This is an unwise and harmful move by a federal agency charged with protecting our health, wildlife, and natural resources.  The stay is also contrary to public support for new methane safeguards, and ignores the U.S. Senate’s recent bipartisan vote to uphold similar protections for oil and gas development on public lands.

TAKE ACTION: Send a note to the Environmental Protection Agency saying why suspending the methane pollution rule for new and modified oil and gas facilities is harmful for wildlife, people and the protection of clean air!

Methane is a climate super-pollutant that has more than 80 times the planet-warming potential over carbon dioxide in the short-term, and is often emitted alongside other harmful air pollution by oil and gas producers, causing localized ozone and toxic pollution problems.  The oil and gas industry is the single largest source of human caused methane pollution in the U.S.  The EPA was right in 2016 to finalize a rule to require new oil and gas operations to incorporate plans to detect and repair leaks and install other pollution control devices to limit their methane and air pollution.

pronghorn fawn
Oil and gas operations on public lands emit methane pollution that is harmful for pronghorn and their fawns. Photo by Mark Thornhoff, Bureau of Land Management.

As a powerful climate pollutant, methane hurts wildlife like the pronghorn and American pika and has the potential to impact the outdoor economy. Today, the outdoor recreation industry contributes $887 billion to our national economy annually, creates 7.6 million direct jobs, and generates $124.5 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue. Hunters, anglers, birders, hikers, campers, and backyard wildlife watchers all depend on healthy wildlife populations and stable ecosystems. Methane pollution poses a direct threat to this growing industry.

More Oil and Gas Wells, More Methane Pollution

Natural Gas Flaring (photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Tim Evanson)

18,000 new oil and gas wells have come online since the rule was finalized.  If it weren’t for the EPA’s rule suspension (including an earlier, 90-day stay), those producers would have had to comply with the rule’s requirements by June 3, 2017.  The Trump Administration has already announced its intent to “review” the EPA rule and a parallel rule at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and canceled the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan and Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions, of which these rules were a central part.

These actions threaten to set back the progress we urgently need to keep carbon pollution below extremely dangerous levels.

This Administration is moving as aggressively as possible to dismantle climate policies that protect public health and wildlife, and there is no sign of a rollback slowdown.  For this reason, we must be equally dogged and determined in speaking up on behalf of the special people, places, and wildlife we cherish.

Take ActionBY AUGUST 9, please send a note to the EPA to decry this harmful 2-year delay of the methane rule. Public opinion matters, including in the court room where these agency actions are being challenged.