(Reuters) – The Trump administration has moved broadly to relax Obama-era rules put in place to regulate methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, offshore drilling safety, fuel economy and wetlands rules that impact oil, gas and coal industries.
The rollbacks come amid surging oil and gas production that put the United States output ahead of historical leaders’ Saudi Arabia and Russia. In May, the United States pumped a record 12.4 million barrels per day of crude, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
While the Trump administration has made reducing the regulatory burden on oil and gas companies a priority to drive U.S. energy production and exports, its efforts have drawn rebukes and lawsuits from environmentalists.
Below is a list of changes to federal oil and gas regulations that have been implemented or proposed under President Donald Trump:
EASING METHANE LIMITS
The administration in August proposed rolling back limits on methane emissions at oil and gas operations implemented during the Obama administration.
The proposal is anticipated to repeal regulations put in place in 2016 that limit methane emissions from new oil and gas drilling, transport and storage operations. Natural gas is composed mostly of methane, one of the main pollutants scientists link to climate change.
In May, the Trump administration unveiled its final plan to roll back offshore drilling safety measures enacted during the Obama administration following the fatal 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The changes were anticipated to save oil and gas companies $1 billion over ten years.
The Obama administration’s 2016 well-control and blowout preventer rule had required real-time monitoring of operations and certification by third parties of emergency devices. The Sierra Club and other groups sued to reverse the decision, arguing the U.S. had failed to consider potential damage to offshore safety and the environment.
POWER PLANT RULES
In June, the Trump administration finalized a carbon emissions rule for U.S. power plants to help the ailing coal industry and replaced an Obama-era rule targeted at fighting climate change.
The Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule would give states three years to devise their own plans to cut emissions, primarily by encouraging coal-fired power plants to improve their efficiency.
EXPANSION OF OFFSHORE DRILLING
In 2017, the administration ordered a reversal of an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. In 2018, it outlined a proposal to open up the Atlantic, Pacific and new parts of the Arctic oceans to offshore drilling.
Since that plan was announced, six states passed legislation or amendments to restrict offshore drilling. Earlier this year, the plan was sidelined following a court ruling to block drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic.
PARIS ACCORD WITHDRAWAL
Trump announced in 2017 he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Achieving that goal would cut as much as 40% off oil demand by the early 2040s, impacting the industry, according to investment fund Legal and General Investment Management.
In a symbolic move, the U.S. House of Representatives in May approved a bill calling on the president to develop a plan to meet the agreements goals. The U.S. Senate has refused to consider it.
Trump issued executive orders in early 2019 to limit the ability of states to block interstate energy projects, including pipelines, under a provision of the U.S. Clean Water Act. His orders called for a review of rules requiring state certifications for federally approved interstate pipelines and project.
Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver, Colorado; Editing by Marguerita Choy
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