The Environmental Protection Agency will lift the policy that controls the release of methane, a gas emitted from leaks and flares in oil and gas well. The recent development is among the current controversial environmental policies that were reversed or relaxed lately. Here are some of the recent controversial environmental policies that had caused alarm among environmental advocates. 

Lifting of Controls on Methane Pollution

Methane is known to have the capacity to trap heat 80 times than carbon. The federal requirements stipulate that oil and gas companies must install technologies to detect and fix methane leaks from well, pipelines, and storage sites. The new methane rule is meant to abolish such measures. The new EPA rule on methane pollution will be announced in public on Friday.

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Weakened Mercury Emission Standards

EPA, in April, announced that it would abolish the legal foundation for regulations on mercury and other toxins emitted from coal and oil fire powered plants. 

The new policy recalculated the cost-benefit analysis for Mercury and Air Toxic Standards from the previous administration. In the new system, the EPA said that the standards are no longer "appropriate or necessary". The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule was meant to force coal-fired power plants to cut their mercury emissions. Mercury emissions have been reduced by 87 percent in the U.S. since 2011.

Revoking Restrictions on Climate-Warming Tailpipe Pollution

In September last year, a  decade-old rule that gives authority to California to set more stringent car emission standards than those required by the federal government was revoked. Since the special waiver that the state had anchored on for years to establish their criteria has been withdrawn, the administration can impose that no state can have more ambitious pollution control than those provided but the federal government. 

The revocation of the waiver in had California in the crossroads: whether it will continue to serve as a laboratory for stringent new auto pollution rules; and whether its regulations requiring automakers to sell the more zero-emission vehicle and plug-in hybrids will linger.

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No Tightening of Regulation on Industrial Soot Emission

A recent health study has linked long-term exposure to pollution and COVID-19 death rates. Researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that higher levels of tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles in the air known as PM 2.5 were linked to higher death rates from the disease. Despite the disturbing association of air pollution and COVID-19 death rates, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, will not impose stricter controls on PM 2.5

He said that the recent scientific study is not sufficient to merit the tightening the current emission standards. "We believe the current standard is protective of public health," Mr. Wheeler said in a telephone call with reporters.

Limit of Public Review of Federal Infrastructure Projects to Speed up the Permitting Process for Freeways, Power Plant and Pipelines 

Last month, President Donald Trump announced that he would overhaul the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, the country's landmark environmental law. The administration's revision aims to decrease the number of infrastructure projects that will be subjected to the NEPA review. It also has provisions to shorten the long-term permit processes that cause project delays effectively. 

The landmark legislation stipulates that federal agencies must put into outmost consideration the environmental impact of the project before it is approved, with public and interested groups included in the consultation. In contrast, the new regulation limits the time to review the permits so that power plants, pipelines, and freeways can acquire the licenses the soonest time possible.

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