A second judge has told the Trump administration and Interior Department it cannot continue to put off clean air rules for oil and gas production on federal lands, according to an Associated Press article published last week. The department has been ordered reinstate the Obama-era regulation meant to restrict dangerous methane emissions known to cause increased air pollution and contribute to negative impacts on public health.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is often released through leaks or intentionally during drilling operations. Methane pollution is also a major threat to public health, as it can exacerbate asthma or other existing respiratory conditions. The rule required energy companies to capture methane that had burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because of its harmful effects on the environment.
This ruling is the second time a federal judge has called on the Trump administration to enforce methane rules. In July 2017, the D.C. circuit appeals court ruled that the EPA didn’t have the power under the Clean Air Act to delay the rule, making environmental groups such as Air Alliance Houston hopeful about what it meant for public health. The Interior Department had previously said it was delaying the Obama-era rule until January 2019, stating that it was intrusive and burdensome to industry.
Various environmental groups have expressed concern that methane emission from industry polluters such as oil and gas companies are one of the biggest contributors to climate change. AAH urges the Trump administration and Pruitt’s EPA to enforce stricter regulations and prioritize human health and safety over industry growth. Our organization remains committed to spreading awareness about the harmful effects of air pollution, particularly with regard to those in low-income communities.