The federal government has a duty to perform. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate the emission of air pollutants that are reasonably anticipated “to endanger public health or welfare” from so-called “stationary sources,” like power plants or petrochemical refineries. Since 1979, it has been clearly understood that the interconnected oil and gas industry required regulation because it is a tremendous source of harmful air pollutants.
Andrew Wheeler Is A Fox In The EPA Henhouse
As a global community dealing with wildfires and glacial melting on a scale that climate scientists did not expect until 2050, it is clear that man-made greenhouse gases, like methane, endanger public health and welfare. The Supreme Court has also declared that EPA must regulate these gases. However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler* has decided to ignore overwhelming truth and inconvenient legal requirements in his decision to deregulate methane emissions for the U.S. oil and gas industry, which now emits more climate-altering greenhouse gas pollution than 150 nations combined. This includes complete emissions deregulation of natural gas pipelines and compressor stations that the Trump Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are trying to cram through without consideration to their clear impacts on climate change.
DID YOU KNOW? Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas with 86x the climate-altering potency of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe.
EPA Has Opted To Rewrite Methane Regulations. We Opt To See Them In Court.
Methane's clear danger is why the EPA, just 4 years earlier in 2016, set clear methane regulations for the oil and gas industry. But following the change in Administration in 2017, the agency launched a campaign to stay, weaken, and rescind these protections. They ultimately lost in court, as this Administration so often has.
Rather than accept the ruling, EPA rewrote the regulations as a direct hand-out to the failing oil and gas industry. EPA did not premise this change on any new studies regarding the scale of pollution from the industry, nor the destruction that such emissions will have on fence-line communities, nor the effects that methane has on heat trapping greenhouse effects. That’s because it’s clear this regulation will harm our communities and climate. If not stopped, this rule will result in over 3.3 million metric tons of preventable methane emissions annually—the equivalent of the annual carbon dioxide emissions of over 60 million cars—at a time when immediate and drastic reductions of this pollutant are critical to avoid the worst imminent effects of climate change. These emissions significantly threaten the health of the nine million people who live within a half mile of regulated oil and gas infrastructure as well as contribute to smog and soot pollution that impacts tens of millions more. Once emitted, Pandora’s Box is open — none of the resulting harms can be reversed.
That is why Food & Water Watch is part of a broad coalition** of public interest organizations bent on stopping this industry handout in its tracks. If Congress won’t act and the President is trying to condemn humanity to a climate-ravaged future, then we must turn to the courts to ensure that the corporate cronyism doesn’t kill our chance to survive for the almighty dollar.
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*Andrew Wheeler is coal magnate Robert E. Murray’s former lawyer. He was also former chief counsel to U.S. Senator James Inhofe — you know, the blunt tool who threw a snowball in Congress as "proof" that climate change is a hoax while being bankrolled by heavy industry and oil companies? Wheeler also “doubts” the science of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change despite never working as a scientist. He’s a paid merchant of doubt, meant to spread disinformation so that industry can profiteer at the expense of human lives.
**We stand against this methane deregulation with Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Integrity Project, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Ft. Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.