Republican attack on the environment

Insane in the Methane: Trump scraps rules on natural gas leaks

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Bad news for those concerned about climate change:

The Trump administration is scrapping limits on methane leaks, allowing oil and gas companies to decide how much of the potent greenhouse gas can escape into the atmosphere from wells, pipelines and storage tanks.

The new rules, issued Thursday by the Office of Management and Budget, effectively rescind the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate methane, the largest component of natural gas. Although it dissipates faster than carbon dioxide, methane is estimated to be at least 25 times and as much as 80 times more potent in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Just a clarification: Methane doesn't actually "dissipate," it converts to carbon dioxide after about nine years of exposure to oxygen. But during that short atmospheric life cycle, it traps heat like a bandit. Which helps trigger the dissolution of methane clathrates in the oceans and permafrost, putting even more methane into the atmosphere. It's a perfect climate change storm, and Trump is pulling all the stops out:

MVP Southgate pipeline has key permit denied by NC DEQ

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Fantastic news for Alamance and Rockingham Counties:

nother natural gas pipeline in North Carolina has been derailed, at least temporarily, as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a water quality permit for the MVP Southgate project that would route through Rockingham and Alamance counties.

In a letter released this afternoon, Division of Water Resources Director Danny Smith wrote, “Due to uncertainty surrounding the completion of the MVP Mainline project,” it has determined that “work on the Southgate extension could lead to unnecessary water quality impacts and disturbance of the environment in North Carolina.”

This project has been flying under the radar of most North Carolina areas, since it is a relatively short spur compared to the now defunct ACP. But it is a very real (and frightening) issue for many of us in Alamance County. The "landmen" have been poking around on people's properties since last year, and some property owners have been taken to court for not allowing those trespassers access:

Trump's EPA has been corrupt since day one

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Completely subservient to the industries it's supposed to regulate:

Not long after President Trump’s inauguration, the head of a fossil fuels industry group requested a call with the president’s transition team. The subject: Barack Obama’s requirement that oil and gas companies begin collecting data on their releases of methane. That outreach, by Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, appeared to quickly yield the desired results.

“Looks like this will be easier than we thought,” David Kreutzer, an economist who was helping to organize the new president’s Environmental Protection Agency, wrote of canceling the methane reporting requirement in an email to another member of the transition team on Feb. 10, 2017. Three weeks after that email, the E.P.A. officially withdrew the reporting requirement — and effectively blocked the compilation of data that would allow for new regulations to control methane, a powerful climate-warming gas.

This isn't just willful ignorance (burying your head in the sand), it's a concerted effort to conceal information that's vital to the public and its institutions. Among many other things, it allows fossil fuel cheerleaders like John Hood to write glowing Op-Eds about natural gas to a public that is kept ignorant on purpose. Just as methyl mercury once was for coal, fugitive methane is the dirty secret of the natural gas industry, and Trump's kakistocracy has been working overtime to maintain that secret:

Fracking companies are dying, and leaving leaking wells behind

So much for the vaunted Free Enterprise system:

The day the debt-ridden Texas oil producer MDC Energy filed for bankruptcy eight months ago, a tank at one of its wells was furiously leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. As of last week, dangerous, invisible gases were still spewing into the air.

By one estimate, the company would need more than $40 million to clean up its wells if they were permanently closed. But the debts of MDC’s parent company now exceed the value of its assets by more than $180 million.

Had another discussion recently about "flaring," wherein the oil/gas drillers burn gas in a spectacular display of sometimes 30 ft flames. I agreed that it was wasteful, but it's what you can't see that is the problem. Venting that gas without flaring it does much more damage than burning it off, and there is not nearly enough attention paid to this problem. Or the irresponsible behavior of the companies who should be forced to cap those wells:

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