Ranking Member Grijalva, 70 Democratic Colleagues Write to Trump Urging Cancellation of Polluter-Friendly Methane Proposals

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and 70 House Democratic colleagues wrote to President Trump today urging him to cancel two polluter-friendly rulemakings on methane emissions, one at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the other at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the EPA, helped lead the letter.

Co-leaders include Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.); Rep. Michele Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.); Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources; and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

The full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2E24cMO.

The proposed EPA rulemaking would weaken leak inspection and repair requirements for oil and gas operations. The proposed BLM rule guts measures designed to reduce methane venting, flaring and leaks from oil and gas operations on public lands – a move that BLM itself has said will permit the waste of nearly $1 billion worth of publicly owned natural gas.

The downsides of this approach are acknowledged even by Trump administration officials. The EPA has admitted that its proposal will “degrade air quality and adversely affect health and welfare” by increasing emissions of volatile organic compounds by 100,000 tons and hazardous air pollutants by 3,800 tons. As a result of BLM’s new rule, the letter authors point out, federal regulation of methane emissions on public lands will largely revert to outdated methods used in the late 1970s and will ignore decades of scientific and technical advances. 

Contrary to Republican and industry spin, the authors write, methane emissions from field production of natural gas, which EPA and BLM regulations are supposed to address, are up 34 percent since 1990. The growth in methane emissions from the natural gas sector has outpaced the growth in natural gas production overall, suggesting that recent developments in the industry demand stronger rather than weaker emissions standards.

The authors put the proposed methane regulations in the context of the Trump administration’s larger war on pollution standards of any kind – a campaign that has already done visible damage to public health and environmental quality. As they write in part:

For nearly two years, your administration has executed a strategy of ignoring threats to public health, abusing taxpayer resources, and undermining efforts to combat climate change. While these efforts have taken the form of multiple federal actions across many agencies, the recent proposed evisceration of methane emission controls by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will accomplish all three of these in one fell swoop.

“Unchecked methane emissions are erasing any climate benefits natural gas has to offer, and without strong regulations in place, there is no productive role for the fuel to play in a low-carbon future,” Rep. Lowenthal said today. “The industry should be defending these regulations as a way to assure the public that trading coal for natural gas isn’t just a case of taking one step forward and two steps back.”

“This administration’s efforts to weaken methane regulation are bad for our country’s health and the global environment, but industry polluters love them,” Rep. DeGette said today. “Our country’s previous methane standards provided a targeted, cost-effective approach to fighting climate change and protecting public health. Loosening the rules on inspection and leaks will reverse years of progress.”  

“The science is there, if we don’t act to reduce methane emissions, we will all suffer,” Rep. Polis said today. “We need to move forward toward clean energy and innovate, as is our tradition as Americans. Moving backward will have vast consequences from dramatic rises in temperatures to widespread natural disasters.”

The full list of signatories is available below.

Rep. Adam Smith

Rep. Alan Lowenthal

Rep. Albio Sires

Rep. Alcee Hastings

Rep. Alma Adams

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Ben Ray Luján

Rep. Bobby Rush

Rep. Brad Sherman

Rep. Chellie Pingree

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

Rep. Daniel T. Kildee

Rep. Daniel W. Lipinski

Rep. Darren Soto

Rep. David Price

Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Rep. Denny Heck

Rep. Diana DeGette

Rep. A. Donald McEachin

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.

Rep. Doris Matsui

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Ed Perlmutter

Rep. Eliot Engel

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson

Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Grace Napolitano

Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Rep. Jamie Raskin

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Rep. Jared Huffman

Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Jimmy Gomez

Rep. Jimmy Panetta

Rep. John Sarbanes

Rep. John Yarmuth

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. Kathy Castor

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez

Rep. Marc Veasey

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

Rep. Mark Pocan

Rep. Mark Takano

Rep. Matt Cartwright

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Rep. Mike Quigley

Rep. Nanette Barragán

Rep. Niki Tsongas

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez

Rep. Paul D. Tonko

Rep. Peter DeFazio

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Rep. Rick Larsen

Rep. Ruben Gallego

Rep. Salud O. Carbajal

Rep. Scott Peters

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay

Rep. Zoe Lofgren

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