List of regulation rollbacks for oil, gas and coal industry
Under President Donald Trump, federal agencies have moved to roll back regulations for companies that extract, transport and burn oil, gas and coal. Government analyses show companies will save billions of dollars in compliance costs, but the trade-off often will be adverse impacts to public health and the environment.
FUEL TRAIN BRAKES: Citing high costs, Trump’s administration rescinded a 2015 Department of Transportation rule requiring railroads to begin installing more advanced electronic brakes on trains hauling hazardous fuels.
Industry savings: $375 million-$554 million (2018-2037)
Impact: Additional derailments of tank cars. AP found the government understated potential impacts by as much as $117 million.
METHANE EMISSIONS: Administration wants to eliminate 2016 Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring energy companies to reduce flaring of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Industry savings: $380 million-$484 million (2019-2025)
Impacts: Emission increases of 380,000 tons of methane, 100,000 tons of volatile organic compounds, 3,800 tons of hazardous air pollutants; adverse health effects including premature deaths, heart attacks, and respiratory problems; potential reductions in visibility.
METHANE EMISSIONS: Administration largely eliminated Interior Department’s 2016 “waste prevention rule” that required companies to reduce the flaring of methane on public and tribal lands.
Industry savings: $1.4 billion-$2.1 billion (2019-2028)
Impacts: Emission increases of 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gas methane; 800,000 tons of volatile organic compounds that can harm health; unspecified public health and welfare impacts.
CLEAN POWER PLAN: Administration is proposing replacement of EPA’s 2015 rule that aimed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. The changes are projected to increase annual coal production by 33 million-40 million tons by 2030.
Industry savings: $3.7 billion-$6.4 billion (2023-2037)
Impacts: Emissions increases of up to 61 million tons of carbon dioxide, 52,000 tons of sulfur oxides and 39,000 tons of nitrous oxides annually by 2030; health effects including up to 1,400 premature deaths, 750 non-fatal heart attacks in 2030; reductions in visibility; ecosystem effects.
COAL ASH DISPOSAL: Administration removed many mandates from 2015 EPA rule aimed at preventing hundreds of spills from toxic coal ash dumps over the next century.
Industry savings: $397 million-$605 million (100 years)
Impact: EPA says that, with other existing federal and state regulations, there will be no additional risks to human health and environment. Critics disagree.
FRACKING: Administration rescinded 2015 Interior Department rule that lowered the risk of water contamination from an oil and gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Industry savings: $102 million-$339 million (2018-2027)
Impact: Increased risk to surface waters, groundwater supplies.
OFFSHORE DRILLING-SAFETY: Administration dropped requirements for third-party safety equipment inspections from a rule enacted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Industry savings: $92 million-$131 million (2019-2028)
Impacts: Administration says the changes will have a negligible impact on safety and environmental protection; critics say it raises the risk of accidents.
OFFSHORE DRILLING-BLOWOUTS: Administration wants more flexibility in how companies meet safety and equipment standards in 2016 Interior rule requiring more stringent inspections of devices designed to prevent offshore oil spills.
Industry savings: $693 million-$946 million (2018-2027)
Impacts: Administration says the changes will not impact worker safety and environmental protection; critics say it raises the risk of accidents.
REFINERY SECTOR: At request of oil industry, administration gave companies more flexibility in reporting air pollution releases under 2015 EPA rule restricting toxic air pollution from refineries.
Industry savings: $89 million-$110 million (2019-2026)
Impacts: Administration says no appreciable emission increases expected; critics say companies can now delay reports of toxic chemical releases into the air, putting communities at risk.
MERCURY POLLUTION: Administration wants to eliminate 2016 EPA rule that determined it was “appropriate and necessary” to reduce power plant emissions of mercury. It says EPA should not have considered up to $90 billion in secondary benefits in reaching its decision.
Industry savings: uncertain; utilities have spent estimated $18 billion to date on compliance
VEHICLE FUEL EFFICIENCY: To limit a 2016 Department of Transportation proposal that called for more stringent fuel efficiency standards, the administration seeks to freeze them after 2020.
Industry savings: revenues on up to 79 billion gallons of additional fuel sales (for vehicles built through 2029)
Impacts: Emission increases of 961 million tons of carbon dioxide, 1.7 million tons of methane; administration says its proposal would prevent up to 1,000 highway deaths annually, a finding disputed by former EPA officials and outside experts.
NOTE: All weights are in short tons, not metric tons
SOURCES: Department of Transportation, Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency