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EPA rolls back methane capture rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continued its promotion of fossil fuels—and its assault on the climate and public health—with a proposal to weaken the requirements for monitoring and repairing methane leaks from oil and gas wells.

This climate-busting proposal would undo a 2016 rule that required oil and gas companies to perform leak inspections as often as every six months, and to repair leaks or capture the escaping methane. Instead, the EPA’s proposal would grant companies a year to conduct those inspections, and two years for low-producing oil and gas wells.

With that, the Trump administration flagged its intention to allow energy companies to release more methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over the short run.

Methane leaks are also accompanied by toxic volatile organic compounds, including benzene, a well-known carcinogen, so the rule increases the risk of harm to health as well as to the climate.

The draft rule is posted on the EPA website; it will become official when it is published in the Federal Register. That will launch a public comment, expected to last 60 days. The EPA has indicated it will hold a public hearing in Denver.

Stay tuned! PSR will provide information soon on how to submit written comments, which will be critical in opposing this dangerous and wasteful rule.

Read PSR’s statement on the rollback here.