By Catherine Rampell

If you want to understand the long-term consequences of the Trump presidency, forget his Twitter feed. Instead, think about methane.

Methane is the main ingredient of natural gas. When released into the atmosphere, it traps 80 times as much heat as its better-known greenhouse-gas cousin, carbon dioxide, over 20 years. Because of methane’s potent heat-trapping abilities, this “super-pollutant” is the sleeper issue of climate change.

Unfortunately, scientists don’t know precisely how much methane is being released because there hasn’t been adequate measurement. But recent studies suggest emissions are much greater than previously believed. In fact, recent research estimates that the fossil-fuel industry emits about 13 million metric tons of methane annually. That’s 80 percent higher than estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. In heat-trapping terms, it is roughly equivalent to total carbon dioxide emissions from all of the United States’ remaining coal-fired plants.

On Thursday, the Trump administration rolled back the rules anyway. In so doing, it provided a useful encapsulation of virtually every awful theme of this administration — and what’s at stake if President Trump gets reelected.

The new rules, first and foremost, are not merely anti-science, but anti-measurement. That is, the rollback’s primary initial impact is to keep Americans in the dark about a climate-damaging pollutant.

“How could we as an advanced society not want to measure these emissions?” asks Michael Greenstone, director of the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. “This is such a concerted effort to stick our heads in the ground.”

Continue Reading at Washington Post…

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Fossil Fuels
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Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...
Environment
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Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.
Environmental Health
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Environmental Health
Energy and industrial processes introduce toxins into the environment. EPIC research is helping to educate policymakers and consumers on the social and economic costs of this pollution, and the potential...