Letters to the Biden Administration
Letters to the Biden Administration
The Earthworks Methane Misinformation Scorecard shows that oil and gas company commitments on climate have failed to translate into significant climate action. The research tracks promises to cut methane and tackle climate from 8 major oil and gas companies and compares them to actions taken by those same companies to reduce climate pollution.
At present, it seems clear that a Biden Presidency is imminent and, while I’m sure he is receiving lots of advice on energy and the environment, much of it unwanted, I will take this opportunity to put in my ten cents worth. (Used to be two cents, but, inflation.)
It’s undeniable that if we have any chance of confronting the climate crisis, we have to transition away from reliance on coal, oil and gas. That includes phasing out both our supply and demand for fossil fuels.
Yet in spite of this unmistakable reality, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham — both self-proclaimed climate champions — want to keep their states dangerously reliant on oil and gas extraction. Both governors need to wake up and acknowledge the fact that they can’t have it both ways.
In a recent op-ed by the governors, they excoriated the Trump administration for rolling back climate safeguards. At the same time, they extolled the oil and gas industry and fracking in their states, citing initiatives to reduce methane — a potent greenhouse gas — from the oil and gas industry.
This summer, as massive wildfires raged across the west, destroying towns and cities and forcing hundreds of thousands of Americans to evacuate their homes, the Trump Administration finalized its latest environmental rollback, repealing regulations designed to reduce methane pollution from oil-and-gas wells. The consequences of this rollback will be dire. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, more than 80 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is emitted. Oil-and-gas operations release vast quantities of this super-pollutant, along with smog-forming fumes and cancer-causing toxics also present in raw natural gas.
Across the country and the world, there are an estimated 29 million abandoned oil and gas wells leaking methane and other contaminants into ground water and the atmosphere. Despite this, we continue to poke more holes in the Earth, making more wounds that never heal.
An abandoned well is an open straw from the surface down to fossil fuel-bearing rock, often passing through freshwater aquifers. The only thing stopping ground water contamination is a bit of steel and concrete that was put there when the well was completed, often decades ago. It is hot and salty at the bottom of a well. Perfect conditions for corrosion of steel and degradation of concrete. Once that happens, and it always will, channels of contamination open to the freshwater aquifers that we use for drinking and crop irrigation.
As huge swaths of the nation deal with wildfires, hurricanes, excessive heat and flooding, it is clear we must immediately implement policies to fight climate change and protect our communities.
Yet as we’re experiencing what many experts say are the early impacts of the mankind-created climate crisis across the country, many politicians are working overtime to move us further in the wrong direction.
NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) just published a shocking report indicating that the Northern Hemisphere had its hottest summer in recorded history. One would think that in light of this news, Andrew Wheeler, the EPA Administrator, would reconsider his stance on the assault of existing methane rules. These rules have been successful in preventing the emissions of millions of tons of the highly-potent greenhouse gas methane. Yet, Wheeler, who also happens to be a former coal industry lobbyist, has failed to meet the dire needs of the current moment.
As the current presidential term comes to an end, the nation is at a natural moment for taking stock. In evaluating the Trump administration, Americans will want to know: has this President improved my situation in life and is the nation’s future brighter? Analysis of a range of policy actions made by the Trump administration reveals that overwhelmingly the answer to that fundamental question for working families is a resounding “no.”
Opposition to the 2016 Leak Detection and Repair Rule Rollback