November 26, 2019

Whitehouse, Duckworth, Van Hollen, and Merkley Blast Trump EPA Methane Rule as Giveaway to Fossil Fuel Industry

Fossil fuel lackeys riddled throughout the EPA are rigging the rules in polluting industries’ favor, senators write in methane rule comment

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are taking the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to task for dramatically rolling back standards for methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, calling Trump’s methane proposal the product of a captured agency.  In an official comment on the Trump administration’s methane rule, the senators lay out how the proposal would benefit oil and gas companies at the expense of Americans’ environment and public health.

The senators point to a mountain of evidence that the Trump administration is controlled by the same fossil fuel interests the EPA is charged with regulating.  Companies and individuals in the oil and gas and mining sectors have been prolific donors to Trump’s campaign as well as outside spending groups supporting his reelection.  Lobbyists and attorneys for oil and gas interests have also occupied top positions in the Trump administration.

The Trump EPA has also acted consistently in the fossil fuel industry’s favor when it comes to methane regulations, the senators write.  Within weeks of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt taking control of the agency, the EPA withdrew its request that oil and gas companies provide detailed information regarding methane emissions at facilities they operate—an assessment that academic studies suggest would seriously damage the case for natural gas as a less dangerous air pollutant than other fuels.  

Beginning in June 2017, the Trump EPA launched an effort to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s stronger methane standards.  Even while the Trump EPA has struggled to defend its actions in court, Pruitt and his successor, Andrew Wheeler, have consistently pressed to delay implementation and unwind key aspects of the methane protections.

Throughout, the Trump administration has refused to develop and issue new rules for methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector, ignoring its obligation under the Clean Air Act.  This has triggered legal action against the EPA from 15 states and the city of Chicago.

Collectively, these decisions are estimated to save oil and gas companies – many of them donors to the Trump campaign and/or outside spending groups affiliated with him – hundreds of millions of dollars, the senators point out.

A PDF copy of the senators’ comment can be accessed here.




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