Trump rolls back methane rules for drilling on US lands

In this Feb. 25, 2015, file photo, a gas flare is seen at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

Two amendments from U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette will be included in a clean energy bill under consideration, one to limit methane emissions from extraction operations on public land and the second to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify and remediate at least 100 communities suffering under violations of environmental law. 

“These aren’t radical ideas,” said DeGette. “If we are going to be serious about solving the climate crisis, we must take steps now to limit the amount of methane that’s being released into our atmosphere. At the same time, we have to do more to help the communities that are suffering the most from our inaction on climate change.”

The underlying bill, the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act, requires the U.S. Department of Energy to give grants to rural electric cooperatives for energy storage and microgrid projects that use renewable energy. DeGette’s methane provision would, within five years, mandate on-shore oil and gas operators to capture 99% of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The measure would also require operators to have leak-detection programs and institute civil penalties for unauthorized venting or flaring of methane.

The EPA amendment directs an analysis of the conditions that led communities to become polluted and orders the coordination of an effort to reduce the number of environmental violations in those locations to below the national average. “Communities like Elyria-Swansea and Globeville, two neighborhoods in my district, have been suffering for years from the pollution produced by nearby plants,” DeGette said.

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