Among its many other attempts to roll back environmental protections, the Trump administration attempted in 2018 to roll back Obama era restrictions on the release of methane on public lands. The Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) relaxed the regulations covering methane that was released into the environment as part of drilling on public lands across the country, despite the ample scientific evidence outlining the potential dangers of methane getting spread around. Now, federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has struck down the BLM’s attempt to relax the rules around methane release. She called the development process behind the new standards “wholly inadequate.”
‘In its haste, BLM ignored its statutory mandate under the Mineral Leasing Act, repeatedly failed to justify numerous reversals in policy positions previously taken, and failed to consider scientific findings and institutions relied upon by both prior Republican and Democratic administrations… In its zeal, BLM simply engineered a process to ensure a preordained conclusion. Where a court has found such widespread violations, the court must fulfill its duties in striking the defectively promulgated rule.’
The attempt to relax rules around the release of methane — which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, besides other issues — is far from unique among Trump administration policies. Just this week, President Trump “finalized a rollback to the country’s landmark environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, by speeding up approval for federal projects like pipelines, highways and power plants,” CNBC explains. From tax policy to environmental policy, the Trump administration has consistently sought to ease the path for big business. If environmental protection regulations are relaxed, then big business has an easier time accomplishing projects that are high on the agenda, no matter the health and environmental consequences.
Earthjustice attorney Robin Cooley — whose organization sued the federal government over the methane rules change — commented:
‘The judge basically rejected every attempt by the Trump administration to gut these common-sense waste prevention measures on behalf of their oil & gas industry cronies. The judge said the administration cannot ignore the impacts on health and well-being of the people who live near oil and gas facilities.’
The Trump administration’s apparent willful ignorance of the science surrounding methane release doesn’t stop there. At one point, Trump even claimed that he simply did not believe a report about looming impacts from climate change that had come out of his own administration. His failures to take the situation of environmental protection and climate change seriously culminate in real-world consequences of his personal belligerence on the subject.
Just recently, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign released a plan to spend trillions of dollars updating the nation’s energy infrastructure to make it more protective of the climate. Meanwhile, Trump has consistently failed to articulate any kind of comprehensive vision for a potential second term, as if the whole thing is just some kind of game show to him, and the point is to “win.” Meanwhile, while he obsesses over himself, Americans across the country are continuing to struggle.