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EPA withdraws request that oil and gas wells provide information on methane emissions

In a major step to undo some of the Obama administration's efforts to regulate emissions from oil and gas production, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it is rescinding a request that operators of oil and gas wells share information on equipment and methane emissions, a move critics say could result in the U.S emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the next several years.

To date, methane is responsible for about 25 percent of global warming, The Washington Post reports. Last year, the Obama administration requested existing oil and gas facilities submit information on methane emissions and how they controlled them. The EPA said it received a letter from attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states that stated the request imposed "burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous." The head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has a well-documented relationship with several energy companies, and said the EPA's action "will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry."

While oil and gas companies are applauding this move, people like Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, are not. In a statement, Pardee called the decision "appalling," and said it shows Pruitt is "turning the EPA into an oil industry vending machine. Just one day after oil-friendly state governments complain about efforts to collect methane pollution data, out pops cancelation. The Trump administration doesn't want this data because it doesn't want to rein in oil companies' massive emissions of this dangerous greenhouse gas."