Columns, Opinion

American Protest: New methane curbs will produce more Dorians

The Trump administration has made its stance on the environment and the effects of climate change clear — they plan to ignore it completely. In his less than three years in the White House, President Donald Trump has rolled back nearly 50 regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, with even more on the way.

In the most recent set of rollback proposals announced last Thursday, the Trump administration is attempting to cut back on methane emission regulations currently in place for oil and gas companies. The proposal would eliminate the federal requirement, first implemented in 2016, that companies install technology to seek out and fix methane leaks when they occur, according to The New York Times.

Furthermore, it calls into question the EPA’s authority to regulate methane as a pollutant contributing to climate change.

Methane’s high global warming potential, a measure of how much energy a gas’ emissions absorb, is 21 times that of carbon dioxide, ranking it amongst the most dangerous of the greenhouse gases, according to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Without regulation, the use of natural gas and unregulated methane leaks as a by-product will only cause detrimental damage to an already endangered and fragile ecosystem.

The point of this regulation is to improve economic growth in American businesses while relying less on energy imports by allowing American companies more leeway in their decisions to keep methane emissions at bay. But the negatives of further polluting the planet far outweigh the benefits of letting businesses have more freedom from government regulation.

These regulations are important for keeping our air and water clean and these resources ultimately matter more for human survival than a thriving industrial economy. If climate change continues to worsen, the economy will suffer greater consequences such as environmental refugees from our own sinking coastlines.

Hurricane Dorian laid wreckage to the Bahamas last week and while hurricanes are a normal occurrence, the strength and movement of the storm demonstrate how increasingly warming waters can have fatal impacts.

Research on past hurricanes similar in destruction to Dorian, such as Harvey in Texas, shows that warming waters cause hurricanes to stall over certain areas, thus causing more destruction than if they had passed by. This is exactly what happened in the Bahamas and it will likely happen again.

Jennifer Francis, a scientist with the Woods Hole Research Center, said, “This is yet another example of the kind of slow-moving tropical systems that we expect to see more often as a response to climate change.”

It is urgent that America catches up with the many other countries and make climate change a top priority in politics. The question can no longer be, “Does climate change exists?” but instead “How do we stop it before it is too late?”

The first step is to elect a president who is fighting for the future sustainability of our Earth rather than short-term economic boosts. The U.S. must also completely divest from non-renewable energy sources and start investing in wind, sunlight and water as our most valuable resources.

As storms continue intensify and oceans continue to rise, it is not long before we begin to see entire cities being displaced. If we continue to let energy industries leak pollutants into the air and water, mass species extinctions might not be too far in the future.

We have very little time left to make the right choice. Priority should be human life and the continued thriving of our ecosystem instead of our economy, which is irrelevant without a habitable planet. 

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