On Aug. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its intent to roll back Obama-era methane emission regulations. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Smaller domestic companies supported the rollback, but it was met with pushback from global oil and gas companies that claim they are committed to reducing their environmental impact. Many larger companies have said they intend to self-regulate their emissions regardless.
The Trump administration is repealing an Obama-era definition of the “waters of the United States.” The 2015 definition clarified the scope of waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act, adding many wetlands and smaller waterways to the list. The EPA’s new definition, anticipated to be finalized this winter, is expected to remove federal protection for many of these water sources.
The U.S. Department of Energy is revoking light bulb energy standards that were set to take effect in 2020. Implemented in 2007 by President George W. Bush and continued by the Obama administration, the standards were meant to phase out incandescent and halogen light bulbs to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs. Critics of the rollback state that the Trump administration’s changes could lead to higher energy bills and more pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to alter the 2015 coal combustion residual rule on July 30. The regulations require coal ash fill projects greater than 12,400 tons to implement environmental protections and follow onsite dry ash storage requirements. If passed, the proposal will eliminate onsite storage requirements and enforce environmental protection requirements only at sites with geographic vulnerabilities. — By Rachael Kelley