Speed Reads

Climate change

EPA reportedly close to weakening rules on emissions of methane

The Environmental Protection Agency could announce as early as this week its plan to roll back Obama-era regulations requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks, The New York Times reports.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and it often escapes into the atmosphere from leaky oil and gas wells. The Times reviewed documents showing that the EPA will propose weakening the requirements that oil and gas drillers perform leak inspections every six months and repair any leaks detected within 30 days, making it so they only have to inspect pipes and wells every one or two years and make repairs within 60 days. The proposal also lets energy companies follow state methane standards rather than federal rules.

If this proposal is implemented, the Times reports, oil and gas companies would recoup nearly all the costs that would have been imposed by the Obama-era rule, estimated at $530 million by 2025, and save $484 million by the same year. Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told the Times that the Obama-era regulation "was the definition of red tape," and "it all depends on who you trust. That administration trusted environmentalists. This one trusts industry."