On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency invoke the wrath of anti-energy advocates across the United States when they chose to relax a handful of regulations regarding oil and gas emissions.
Here’s What Happened
In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the EPA’s top compliance official, Susan P. Bodine, issued a temporary halt on punishments surround certain regulatory infractions. According to the order issued:
“In general, the EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that Covid-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request.”
And Now People Are Angry
Those people who devote their lives to derailing the United States’ energy agenda quickly seized on the update. In a tweet, former Vice President and anti-energy crusader Al Gore called the order “a shameful abdication of responsibility.”
This is a shameful abdication of responsibility by @EPA. President Trump is using a public health crisis to justify a free allowance to pollute our air & water. Pollution enforcement can proceed while protecting workers & the public from the #Coronavirus. https://t.co/tib3gXSxil— Al Gore (@algore) March 27, 2020
As often appears to be the case with those who are intent on blaming oil and gas for the world’s woes, those crusaders have the story twisted.
The Focus on Public Health
Those who oppose the move have highlighted the rules being revoked. Few have focused on the administration’s ultimate goal: public health and safety.
The EPA’s new order only revokes regulations that would otherwise “create an acute risk or imminent threat to public health or the environment.” In other words, the emphasis is on keeping people and the environment as safe as possible during a period of national emergency.
The EPA also proclaimed that any company choosing to disregard previously installed regulations would need to back up their decision with the appropriate paperwork and proof.
Even as opponents decry the new order, they are overlooking one simple fact. In a time when the United States government has imposed some of the harshest energy regulations in the world, it is the companies operating within those bounds that have reduced emissions and taken strides to protect the environment that goes far beyond the rules enacted.
Anti-energy proponents can complain that temporarily rescinding these regulations will open the floodgates for abuse. Still, the fact is that energy companies have long used United States environmental rules as the basement for their self-regulation, not the ceiling.