The Environmental Protection Agency will soon issue a new rule lifting Obama-era controls on methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Under the rule, oil and gas companies will no longer have to install systems that can find and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines, and storage facilities. A person with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times the EPA will publicly announce the change before Friday.
The Trump EPA claims that this new rule, which has been in development for more than a year, will fix a crippling regulation that hurts the oil and gas industries. Methane makes up almost 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the Times reports, and by some estimates, in the first 20 years methane is in the atmosphere, it has 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, the most harmful greenhouse gas.
The Trump administration has weakened many environmental rules and regulations since 2017, including those curbing the release of toxic chemicals from coal-fired power plants. Some large oil and gas companies are actually against the relaxation of the methane rule, the Times reports — in 2018, Shell President Gretchen Watkins told the Trump administration methane emissions needed to be regulated, later saying the "negative impacts of methane have been widely acknowledged for years" and it's "frustrating and disappointing to see the administration go in a different direction."
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