Climate Justice Roundup: Methane Rule Reinstated, Disaster Relief Aid Requested, Clean Power Plan in Trouble

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 05, 2017

Yesterday (October 4) was a busy one for policies that impact climate justice. Here’s what happened:

Methane Rule Reinstated
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte ordered the Department of the Interior to immediately reinstate an Obama-era rule that restricted dangerous methane emissions generated by oil and gas production at drilling sites on public land. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat within the Earth’s atmosphere at about 30 times the rate of carbon dioxide.

Per The Associated Press, Laporte said that the Interior “failed to give a ‘reasoned explanation’ for the changes and had not offered details why an earlier analysis by the Obama administration was faulty.”

Clean Power Plan in Danger
Back in March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and “as soon as practicable, suspend, revise or rescind the guidance.”

The CPP requires states to slash greenhouse gas emissions from currently operating power plants by more than 30 percent by 2030. From a now-archived page on the EPA’s website:

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. The science shows that climate change is already posing risks to our health and our economy. The Clean Power Plan will maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment now and for future generations.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported that an internal EPA document shows that the administration is set to repeal the plan. The draft proposal reportedly includes plans to ask the public and energy industry figures to submit suggestions to replace the CPP, and will result in a new rule, “similarly intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled electric utility generating units and to solicit information for the agency to consider in developing such a rule.”

At a press conference to sign the executive order on March 28, Trump said: “We have a very, very impressive group here to celebrate the start of a new era in American energy production and job creation. The action I’m taking today will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom and allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time, fellas.” He has also called the CPP “stupid.”

An EPA spokesperson declined to confirm with The New York Times that the agency will formally repeal the rule.

White House Asks for Disaster Aid
The Washington Post reports that White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney asked Congress for almost $30 billion in additional funding to back aid in the aftermath of natural disasters, including efforts in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida.

The request includes raising the federal flood insurance program limit by $16 billion, adding $12.77 billion to the federal disaster relief fund and earmarking nearly $577 million to fight wildfires out West. Mulvaney said the government is currently spending just under $200 million a day from the Federal Emergency Management Agency-run Disaster Relief Fund.

Mulvaney also walked back Trump’s comments about wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt as the U.S. territory struggles to rebuild, telling Fox News, “We are not going to bail them out," he said. "We are not going to pay off those debts. We are not going to bail out those bond holders.”