On Sept. 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed rule change that would loosen methane regulations. This rule would undermine Obama-era regulations aimed at preventing methane leaks, more than a year after environmental groups won a lawsuit against the EPA for attempting to delay the implementation of these regulations.
Industry groups supported the proposal, citing the agency’s expectation of saving the oil and gas industry $75 million dollars annually. The EPA is accepting public comments until Nov. 16.
And onn Sept. 18, the Department of the Interior released plans to eliminate rules requiring oil and gas companies to control methane flaring, venting, and leaks on federal lands. On Sept. 28, a coalition of environmental and citizen groups filed a lawsuit challenging that rule change.
Methane is the main component of natural gas and is a greenhouse gas about 86 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. According to several environmental groups, the EPA itself has acknowledged that loosening methane regulations “may have a disproportionate effect on children,” and admitted that methane emissions may cause a rise in instances of premature deaths, strokes, chronic bronchitis and low birth weights. — By Eric Halvarson