The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said it would begin a review of an Obama administration rule limiting methane emissions at oil and gas drilling sites.
EPA’s action — the first step in the lengthy process of undoing the methane rule — was a component of the energy executive order President Trump signed in March.
It comes after oil and gas industry objections to Obama’s methane regulations, which drillers said were duplicative, harmful to companies and unnecessary, given industry-driven efforts to reduce methane emissions on its own.
“American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized.”
Pruitt’s action is certain to draw legal challenges from the rule’s supporters.
Methane is the main component of natural gas, and a potential greenhouse gas with a climate change impact 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.
The Obama administration undertook an effort to cut methane pollution by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. The EPA’s rule limiting methane emissions at new drilling sites was a key component of that effort.
The rule, finalized last May, would reduce up to 520,000 short tons of methane in 2025, or the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, if fully implemented. The EPA estimated it would carry $530 million in compliance costs by 2025.
Drillers objected to the rule, saying they already were subject to state rules on methane emissions and had a financial incentive to capture methane and put it onto the market.
Several states sued over the standards, including Pruitt during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general.
The order is the latest Trump administration action targeting Obama administration methane work.
Trump's energy executive order rescinded Obama’s methane reduction strategy plan, and the EPA in March withdrew an information request Obama regulators sent to drillers that they hoped to use to write more methane regulations.