The Gas Industry Wants to Curb Methane Leaks. Trump Doesn’t Care.

The Trump administration plans to eliminate regulations that limit methane leaks because—well, just because:

The plan “delivers on President Trump’s executive order and removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” said the E.P.A. administrator, Andrew Wheeler. “The Trump administration recognizes that methane is valuable and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use.

Quite so. Let’s take a look at how those incentives are doing:

At this rate, market incentives should cut methane emissions in half by, oh, 2070 or so. Still, this kind of thing owns the libs by showing once again that manly men like Trump don’t believe in global warming. I mean, it’s not as if the natural gas industry itself has been begging for emission regs to be eliminated:

Larger companies have invested millions of dollars to promote natural gas — which produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal — as a cleaner option than coal in the nation’s power plants. They fear that unrestricted leaks of methane could undermine that marketing message, hurting demand.

Exxon wrote to the E.P.A. last year urging the agency to maintain core elements of the Obama-era policy. And earlier this year Gretchen Watkins, the United States chairwoman for Shell, said the E.P.A. should impose rules “that will both regulate existing methane emissions but also future methane emissions.” Susan Dio, the chairwoman and president of BP America, wrote an op-ed article in March saying that regulating methane is the “right thing to do for the planet” and for the natural gas industry.

Even if this is just a PR gambit, who cares? Progress is progress. Unless it’s Obama progress, that is.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.