Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt said Wednesday that the agency will repeal the Obama administration’s rules limiting methane gas emissions.
The move would roll back regulations meant to drastically curb methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. Its stated purpose is to reduce the effects such emissions have on climate change — scientists say methane is one of the primary drivers of global warming.
Pruitt said in a press statement that the move would show that the EPA is following “through with President Donald Trump’s energy independence executive order,” an order the president signed in March.
“American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized,” Pruitt wrote in a letter to the American Petroleum Institute, among others.
EPA will provide a suitable opportunity for the fossil fuel industry and the public to comment on the move, he added.
Pruitt withdrew another methane rule in March, which asked oil and gas operators to disclose information on leaks at their facilities. The rule was generated for the purpose of making it easier for the EPA to govern the industry’s emissions.
Activists believe the Trump administration’s decision to move forward on repealing the Obama-era rule could exacerbate climate change.
“There are proven, low-cost ways to capture methane instead of letting it pollute our air, and the last administration put in place standards to make sure we do just that,” Michelle Robinson, a director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a press statement after the news.
Conservative analysts, meanwhile, argue methane rules are unnecessary, as only a small fraction of gas and oil production comes from federal land.
American Action Forum conducted a report earlier this year suggesting the rules on venting and flaring methane from oil and natural gas on federal lands cost private companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The EPA’s own research appears to support American Action Forum’s claims. The agency stated last year that carbon dioxide contributes more to global warming than methane, which is responsible for 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
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