News 12 september — 17:50

EPA seeks to relax rules on methane emissions, admits harmful health impacts


 The Trump administration is seeking to ease Obama-era restrictions on methane gas emissions, touting the benefits for energy companies while admitting the changes could harm air quality and human health, Euronews reports.

Under a new proposal that the Environmental Protection Agency released on Tuesday, oil and gas companies would be permitted to conduct less frequent inspections for methane leaks at their facilities and would be given more time to make repairs.

The agency estimated that its proposal, which was first reported by The New York Times, would save up to $484 million in regulatory costs between 2019 and 2025, at the expense of at least $54 million in domestic societal costs due to methane's impact on climate, including higher flood risk and air-conditioning costs. The EPA called the Obama-era climate rules "overly burdensome and duplicative."

But in its own analysis, the EPA said it expected the proposed changes "may also degrade air quality and adversely affect health and welfare effects associated with exposure" to ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants that would rise in addition to methane gas.

The agency said that it did not quantify the harm or include them in its cost analysis because of a lack of relevant data. However, the EPA's analysis said that instances of premature death, stroke, chronic bronchitis and low birth weight could rise due to higher emissions of harmful pollutants. The agency also recently estimated that its proposed changes to Obama-era rules for coal plants would cause up to 1,400 more deaths per year.

"The EPA is acknowledging that rolling back these pollution protections will have an impact on our children's health, on the health of our communities, and they're going ahead with it anyway," said Matthew Gravatt, associate legislative director of the Sierra Club. "They're responding to the request of the dirty fuel industry."

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