As the Trump administration continues to tear down critical environmental and public health protections, an opposite trend is gaining momentum in states that understand what our president doesn’t: It’s possible to curb pollution while growing our economy.
The latest example of such state leadership is California’s recent decision to cut emissions from the oil and gas industry. It’s the first major environmental regulation to be issued since Trump took office and it sends a clear message that state’s aren’t going to take the new administration’s attacks on the environment lying down.
California part of a bigger trend
Many Americans still view California, the world’s sixth largest economy, as an outlier. The state’s decision to pass the country’s strongest oil and gas regulations will undoubtedly feed that narrative.
Except in this case, California is following several other states such as Colorado, Ohio and Wyoming that already moved to reduce pollution from oil and gas operations. Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest gas producer, is pursuing similar policies as well.
California’s action will go farther than any other because of its scope of covered sources and the state’s extensive energy production. The Golden State is the third-largest producer of oil in the country and second-largest user of natural gas, which means the new policies will have a significant impact.
$50 million in lost gas
Going forward, operators in the state will be required to monitor and reduce methane emissions from oil and gas wells, natural gas processing facilities, compressor stations and other equipment used to process and deliver oil and natural gas.
It will help capture some of the $50 million worth of gas that the California oil and gas industry is wasting every year because of leaky equipment – a change that will benefit industry as well.
It will also show other states that sensible policies do work.
States are getting it
With state policies to curb methane emissions being adopted by red states as well as blue, California’s new methane regulations will help reinforce the message that environmental regulations and economic growth can actually go hand-in-hand.
Cutting oil and gas emissions is one of the most-cost effective ways to protect air quality, tackle climate change and reduce energy waste. And it can be done by implementing home-grown solutions that result in new business opportunities.
Such opportunities aren’t lost on visionary governors who look out for their citizens, regardless of who happens to sit in the Oval Office. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and healthy environment – we can, and should, have both.