EPA Retracts Methane Information Requests
What happened: The Trump EPA withdrew a request (initiated by the Obama EPA) for data on methane emissions from the US oil and gas industry.
Why it matters: Neglecting to collect data suggests that you don't place a high priority on whatever problems the data are needed to address—in this case, climate change.
On March 2, an EPA news release stated the agency would be withdrawing a request for information on: 1) “an ‘operator survey’ that asked for basic information on the numbers and types of equipment at all onshore oil and gas production facilities in the U.S.” and 2) “a ‘facilitator survey’ asking for more detailed information on sources of methane emissions and emission control devices or practices in use by a representative sampling of facilities in several segments of the oil and gas industry.” The news release notes that Administrator Scott Pruitt asked for the withdrawal “to assess the need for the information that the agency was collecting through these requests.” Some thought that withdrawing this requests for data sent a strong signal about the Trump administration’s future action on climate change. Mark Brownstein, vice president for climate and energy programs at the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “If the EPA is going to run away from collecting even the most basic information about oil and gas operations, what does this say about its dedication to protecting air quality and water quality?” The EPA under the Obama administration made the decision to request methane emissions data from the oil and gas industry after recent studies suggested the agency’s numbers were inaccurate.