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Selling our health? EPA moves to overturn Obama-Era air quality regulations

In 2019, the Trump administration announced plans to roll back air pollution regulations placed on the oil and gas industry during the administration of President Barack Obama. Learn why and what impact this could have on global air pollution and human he


On August 29, 2019, the Trump administration in the United States announced plans to roll back air pollution regulations placed on the oil and gas industry during the administration of President Barack Obama.

These regulations, which were previously enacted to mitigate the industry’s effects on air pollution and climate change, urged companies to install controls in several places, including drilling and production operations, pipelines, and storage facilities, in order to monitor and curb methane emissions.

Andrew Wheeler, former energy lobbyist and current head of the EPA, claims that since methane is valuable, the industry is naturally incentivized to minimize leaks. As a result, he stated that current regulations are “unnecessary and duplicative.”2

According to the Agency, the new proposals will allow the oil and gas industry to save $17 million to $19 million a year, or up to $123 million by 2025.3

Consequently, however, the EPA will be removed of any authority to regulate operations as they pertain to VOC emissions, the largest source of methane from the sector.4

A new study published by the Imperial College London and Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Air estimated that air pollution has caused 30,000 American deaths in a single year.5 Recent moves by the EPA to rollback United States air quality regulations raise concerns that even more American lives may be threatened for the sake of industry profits.


[1] Friedman L, et al. (2019, August 29). Curbs on methane, potent greenhouse gas, to be relaxed in U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/climate/epa-methane-greenhouse-gas.html

[2] EPA proposes scrapping Obama-era methane rules. (2019).  https://www.eenews.net/stories/1061110633

[3] Holden E. (2019, August 30). Trump administration rolls back methane pollution regulations. https://www.hcn.org/articles/climate-desk-trump-administration-rolls-back-obama-era-methane-regulations

[4] Kennedy M. (2019, August 29). EPA aims to roll back limits on methane emissions from oil and gas industry. https://www.npr.org/2019/08/29/755394353/epa-aims-to-roll-back-limits-on-methane-emissions-from-oil-and-gas-industry

[5] Bennett JE, et al. (2019). Particulate matter air pollution and national and county life expectancy loss in the USA: A spatiotemporal analysis. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002856

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