Public Citizen Testifies at Dallas EPA Hearing on Methane Rule

Public can submit comments until Nov. 25

Last month in Dallas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted its one-and-only public hearing on President Trump’s proposal to rescind a federal rule that limits climate-warming methane emissions.

Three members of Public Citizen’s Texas team – Adrian Shelley, Stephanie Thomas and Michael Coleman – joined nearly 100 others from around the country in Dallas to testify against the plan.We told Trump’s EPA that rolling back the methane rule established by President Obama in 2016 to prevent unregulated release of methane is irresponsible public policy.

Michael Coleman of Public Citizen

This ill-advised effort to scuttle years of carefully negotiated work by the Obama administration would scuttle a rule requiring oil and gas operators to install technology that can detect and repair leaks of methane – one of the worst heat-trapping gases – from their production equipment.

“We think it’s appalling that instead of trying to tackle climate change and make the earth a better place for our kids and grandkids, the Trump administration is doing the opposite,” Coleman told EPA officials at the hearing. “Reversing the Obama-era rule is abhorrent public health policy, and history will judge this EPA harshly if it does so.”

Much of the focus on the methane rule rollback in Texas is on the Permian Basin in West Texas, where the problem is most acute. But it’s not limited to West Texas. The Houston region – home to a massive petrochemical corridor – is also a culprit.

Stephanie Thomas of Public Citizen testifies

The Obama rule covers the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and natural gas, all of which take place near Houston. The region is home to hundreds of producing oil and gas wells, a spaghetti network of pipelines, as well as the 2nd largest petrochemical complex in the world with some of the country’s most prolific refineries and storage. The Methane Rule, if kept in place, could be part of a larger strategy to help prevent the worst climate outcomes.

“These are common sense pollution controls that need to be maintained for the health and safety of our communities,” Thomas told the EPA officials in Dallas. “Doing otherwise is reckless.”

In a statement prior to the important methane hearing, Shelley said the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the Obama rule was part of a larger refusal to acknowledge the contribution of oil and gas extraction to climate change.

“Rolling back this rule will prevent the United States from meeting our climate commitments,” Shelley said. “It will also lead to harmful air pollution in large parts of Texas, and wanton waste due to the reckless actions of the fossil fuel extraction industry—waste that could reach $2 billion a year nationally. Harming public health, wasting resources and worsening climate change seem to be priorities at Trump’s EPA.

“Furthermore, many major oil and gas producers – including ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell – oppose this rule rollback,” Shelley added. “Most large energy companies already have commitments to reduce emissions of climate pollutants. In reality, this is about an agenda of climate denialism.”

While the EPA has only offered the public one chance to comment in person, there is still an opportunity to submit written comments in opposition. The EPA will accept them until Nov. 25. To add your voice to that of Public Citizen and others around the nation in opposition to this reckless public policy, add your name here.