The Trump administration announced a proposal on Thursday to reverse Obama-era rules on methane emissions, the greenhouse gas that’s been linked to climate change, from the oil-and-gas industry — a multi-million dollar boon to the energy companies.
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Under the plan, widely released Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency would no longer require the industry to install technologies that monitor, limit and repair methane leaks from pipelines and storage facilities.
The new rule, which would loosen the requirement for the industry to install technologies limiting leaks, marks the latest attempt by President Trump to roll back Obama-era emissions regulations on oil and gas industries. It would also eliminate legals limits for methane emissions from industry sites.
The oil and gas industry is the biggest contributor of methane emissions in the country, accounting for almost one-third in 2016. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if methane leaks into the air before being used, it absorbs the sun’s heat, warming the atmosphere. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
“EPA’s proposal delivers on President Trump’s executive order and removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “The Trump administration recognizes that methane is valuable, and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use.”
But several major gas companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, actually oppose the move, stressing the need to reduce methane emissions in the atmosphere.
Similarly, four of the world’s biggest automakers sidestepped the Trump administration at the end of July, signing a deal with California to raise standards governing gas mileage and emissions instead of backing the White House’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules.
In 2017, the EPA tried to suspend the regulation on methane; however, a federal appeals court blocked the move.