This blog was authored by The Public Interest Network Intern Natalie Kerr
On June 30, Environment America celebrated the Biden administration’s reversal of a dangerous rollback on methane regulations – a major win for our air quality and global warming efforts.
Back in August 2019, the Trump administration had announced plans to roll back an Obama-era regulation that limited emissions on methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. The regulation in question required oil and gas companies to monitor and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities.
One year later, the rollback was finalized. Oil and gas companies were free to leak methane without monitoring or fixing their leaks — until now.
Why it matters:
Significant amounts of methane are released through the processes required to produce and use oil and gas. Without regulations on methane leaks, oil and gas companies were allowed to release unlimited amounts of methane pollution into the environment, which harms our communities and damages the environment and the resources we depend on.
Methane is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases, with a potency 84 times higher than carbon dioxide. When released into the air, it warms the atmosphere significantly, exacerbating global warming and climate change effects.
Scientists warn we only have 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming to go before we hit a catastrophic tipping point in our fight against climate change. This tipping point would bring extreme and deadly heat waves, drought, water shortages and massive animal extinction.
When oil and gas companies are allowed to freely leak methane into the atmosphere, our environment and our health suffer. The rollback from the Trump administration could have led to an additional 850,000 tons of planet-warming methane in our atmosphere in just 10 years.
We can’t continue releasing greenhouse gases at such a dangerous rate if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Already, we are experiencing deadly high temperatures, wildfires, droughts and flooding across the United States that threaten the lives of millions of Americans.
Stronger methane regulations to fight global warming and climate change is a commonsense solution and it had bipartisan support in Congress, which is why Environment America advocates and supporters from Arizona to Maine spoke up to reinstate the methane rule.
With your support, we won:
Environment America knows that most Americans oppose allowing polluters to release air pollutants and planet-warming greenhouse gases without restraint. So we sought to demonstrate this support to decision-makers.
We delivered more than 16,800 petitions in support of the methane rule to our senators across the country. We advocated for stronger methane regulations and made our voices heard, and people listened.
With the methane rule back in place, we can breathe a little easier knowing that our planet will see less methane enter the atmosphere.
The effort isn’t over – until the U.S. reaches zero emissions, there will always be work to do to put a stop to global warming pollution. Environment America remains dedicated to reducing pollution and creating a greener future for our planet.
We will continue garnering grassroots and political support for stronger pollution standards, and educating Americans about the treacherous truth about pollution, climate change and our role in protecting our environment.
Photo: The Biden administration officially reinstated the methane rule, rolled back by the previous administration, requiring oil and gas companies to capture methane leaks. Credit: Blake Thornberry via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0