The wrong time to roll back regulations

The EPA is currently working to roll back regulations that require oil and gas producers to inventory and limit releases of methane gas.

Methane is a greenhouse gas 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide. From small to large, communities in Wisconsin either beneficially utilize or burn methane produced in wastewater treatment and landfills.

Our communities take the responsibility to limit even small methane emissions. Why should much larger emissions in the oil and gas industries be excused? Many large companies, such as BP and ExxonMobile, do not want the regulations relaxed. It is damaging to their environmental reputation.

Relaxed rules on methane and automobile emissions, off-shore and arctic drilling, coal expansion, and many other environmental directions are being taken on a federal level contrary to a goal of curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile the carbon dioxide sink in the Amazon is burning. We had an empty chair for discussion of these globally important issues at the G7 meeting in France. While national leadership is absent, individuals, cities, states and industry seem to understand what is at stake and are working to make changes. It would be quite refreshing if these efforts did not need to be divided between making change and protesting and battling lawsuits.

Major national action is needed, and many ideas have been proposed. The simplest and perhaps the most promising is a carbon fee and dividend. As time drags on, though, more drastic action will be required to mitigate global warming. If only it were not a dream to consider an urgent national effort. To quote our current president, “No dream is too big. No challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach.”

Steven Reusser

Eau Claire