August 11, 2020

Udall Statement on Trump EPA Decision to Eliminate Methane Pollution Rules During COVID Pandemic

Administration is reportedly rushing ahead during pandemic to deregulate air pollution

Udall secured new methane standards in bipartisan, Senate-passed pipeline safety bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, released the following statement on reports that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to eliminate methane pollution rules for new oil and gas wells: 

“Once again, the Trump EPA is eliminating common-sense rules that reduce toxic air pollution, limit the waste of natural resources, and slow the existential threat of climate change. This time, they are doing so in the middle of a pandemic that is devastating communities that have suffered disproportionate amounts of environmental pollution for decades. EPA’s needless decision will jeopardize the health and safety of New Mexicans and Native communities in the Southwest that already live under a methane plume the size of Delaware. 

“As climate change continues to threaten our way of life, Americans must wonder why this administration is unconscionably choosing to pander to a small number of irresponsible polluters, while Congress is acting on a bipartisan basis to actually reduce methane pollution at the same time. Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas super pollutant, and I will continue to fight this administration’s attempts to weaken safeguards that slow climate change and protect Americans’ health, safety and livelihoods.” 

Udall recently secured bipartisan improvements to hold pipeline operators responsible for detecting and addressing dangerous methane leaks in the PIPES Act, pipeline safety legislation that passed the Senate last week.

The PIPES Act would reauthorize pipeline safety programs at the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency charged with regulating pipelines for safety and environmental purposes. After leading an effort to prevent Senate passage of the legislation without stronger methane provisions, Udall successfully advocated for including requirements for operators of natural gas facilities to deploy the latest technology to prevent, detect and address dangerous methane leaks. The changes are based on his legislation, the METHANE Act. During Commerce Committee consideration in July 2019, Udall also successfully included an amendment to require PHMSA regulation for the first time to nearly 100,000 miles of natural gas “gathering” pipelines.