UPDATE (August 29, 2019): Today the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new proposed rule that would loosen safeguards on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. This proposal would allow increased methane emissions from oil and gas operations and weaken efforts to fight climate change. Rachel Cleetus, policy director for the Climate and Energy program at UCS, responds to this latest development.
Until recently, carbon dioxide has earned top billing among global warming gases. Emitted when fossil fuels burn, it remains the most prevalent heat-trapping emission driving climate change. Its concentration in the atmosphere has now reached levels unseen for three million years, helping to usher in an unprecedented decline in plant and animal species, according to a recent major United Nations report. Recent science is adding another gas to the marquee: methane. Just as we are learning how desperately we need to curb this gas, the Trump administration wants to kick the oil and gas industry’s methane standards to the curb.