By: Logan Mossbarger
Now more than ever—as we see year after year break temperature records—we must protect and enact smart policies and regulations that work to keep pollutants like methane out of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, as the administration pursues its dangerous deregulatory agenda, we are seeing common sense thrown out the window. A prime example of this is the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to eliminate federal regulation of methane leaks in the oil and gas industry—allowing them to emit unlimited amounts methane. Deregulation of methane is bad for business, public health and safety, and the environment.
Deregulation of methane emissions steps us in the wrong direction for a cleaner future. Methane is the second most emitted greenhouse gas, and has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. The oil and gas industry is the largest emitter of methane in the United States.
Not only will the EPA’s proposal cost the industry even more money on top of the billions that they already lose due to the leaks, those emissions also present serious health risks from exposure to dangerous chemicals to workers and local communities. That’s because methane leaks contain toxic air pollutants, like the carcinogen benzene. These chemicals can cause health problems, such as asthma and respiratory problems, neurological problems, water and air contamination, and more.
Methane leaks are an environmental disaster. However, the mitigation of methane can be an economic opportunity. All it takes is common-sense ideas and the cost-effective technologies and practices that we already have today to significantly reduce methane emissions. The BlueGreen Alliance research has found that taking action to reduce methane in the oil and gas sector could create and sustain an estimated 50,000 jobs in the United States over the next decade in a variety of sectors—including manufacturing.
Unfortunately, without strong, sensible standards, we lose potential job creation and valuable innovation that can be used to continue to grow and improve the methane mitigation industry. Deregulation doesn’t create good jobs; it stops us from creating them.
The methane rollback wouldn’t just be a step in the wrong direction, but a leap. It would hurt everyone involved from workers to communities to the oil and gas industry itself. This proposal would eliminate potential job creation and innovation that would not only help the oil and gas industry but the economy as a whole. It would impose bigger health risks on workers and communities and, in the end, allow for dangerous amounts of methane to be released into the atmosphere.
New and innovative solutions are needed to achieve a more sustainable and clean future, not more deregulation.