Last Thursday, President Trump announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will plan to revoke Obama-Era's imposed limits on methane releases of oil and gas industries. While heavy backlash from environmental activist groups has been reoccurring, the nation's response to this crisis has remained static.
One of the biggest reasons is cost. For bigger companies like Shell, which generates a net worth of a mere 388 billion, simple methane checks remain unimportant and only take up a fraction of their budget. For smaller companies, however, restrictions can not only become extremely complicated but also reluctant to follow. President Trump's biggest intention is to give small businesses, ones that can't allocate a heavy quota towards methane regulations, a chance. This was President Trump Administration's means to not only show support for the oil, coal, and gas industry, but to also ensure the proposal "removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry," as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.
Here's why this is a problem.
We can't fight the inevitable. One day all of us and our planet will die, but it's not supposed to at such an alarming rate. Let's start with the basics.
What exactly is methane? Methane is a primary component of natural gas, used as a common fuel source. It is used to generate heat and make energy.
What makes methane different from other greenhouse gases like Carbon Dioxide is its ability to absorb heat. Methane in the atmosphere easily absorbs heat from the sun, and while it doesn't remain in the atmosphere as long as Carbon Dioxide would, many argue its effects are far worse. It contains a higher "global warming potential" than that of Carbon Dioxide, which is why it is ranked as one of the worse greenhouse gases.
What does methane have to do with the Trump Administration's new plan? Simple. The best way to prevent methane from its catastrophic effects is to catch it before it reaches the atmosphere. Gas leaks from fossil fuel infrastructure, one that Obama-Era's restrictions successfully reduced, is one of the most effortless ways methane reaches said atmosphere. Prevention of these leaks using heavy restrictions is a proven solution, as the Obama Administration estimated that their methane restriction would prevent more than 170,000 tons of CO2 equivalent pollution per year.
Do we really value a small, marginal percentage of annual profit small companies would save without regulations? Or we value our planet's safety? At the end of the day, one of these things clearly should be more focused on, and it's not a small businesses' annual profit.