Americans are now at risk of developing flulike symptoms, hallucinations, depression, migraines, and damage to the central nervous system by drinking tainted well water or breathing the toxic air outdoors now that the Trump Administration has loosened regulations on methane leakage.
Methane is very similar to carbon dioxide. Many energy companies burn off or “flare” large supplies of natural gas, mainly methane, at drilling sites simply because it is not worth as much money as oil. Now, methane has become a greenhouse gas considered more potent of a pollutant than carbon dioxide and is one of the most powerful contributors to climate change.
The Trump Administration set new rules in place to loosen Obama Era regulations on the amount of toxic methane released when energy companies drill for oil and flare access methane not only on federal lands, but also on private land where people live close to these companies. Many environmental policies during the time Obama was in office were making vast differences in the health of Americans in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, California, and New Mexico. The Attorney Generals for both California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to reinstate the 2016 Obama Administration rule.
With Trump’s new rules it is possible to reduce corporate expenditures by as much as $2 Billion over the next all decade. On the other hand, under Obama’s former regulations, 40% of the methane gas being released into the atmosphere close to people’s homes and towns could be captured economically and sold by the government. $734 Million worth of natural gas could be recovered and sold to other countries.
Even department of the interior officials were unable to say how much the new rule would reduce methane emissions. Officials estimate that emissions of potentially hazardous pollutants known as volatile organic compounds, which can cause health problems if inhaled, could be cut up to about 73,000 tons annually under the new rules. It is fact, however, that the prior regulation set by President Obama cut emissions by up to 163,000 tons a year.
Furthermore, the 2011 MATS, or Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, rule put into place by President Obama has forced coal plants to add pollution controls to their facilities, in order to reduce mercury emissions, a pollutant that can be toxic to pregnant women and put infants at risk of developmental problems. Now that Trump is in control, the MATS rule will be reevaluated due to the amount of energy plants choosing to close rather than spend money on the installation of pollution control technology. However, each one of Obama’s regulations improved the health of thousands of US citizens.
In the end, The Trump Administration has taken steps to ease regulations on the amount of pollutant emissions, potentially causing illness to many Americans, with the good intention to reduce America’s debt. However, at the end of the day, is a cost-effective, environmentally weaker plan better for Americans than President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan?