Trump administration to roll back rules on methane pollution; California threatens suit

Alexa Díaz
Aug. 29, 2019

The Trump administration plans to roll back regulations on leaks of natural gas from wells, pipelines and other equipment, a move that could significantly increase emissions that cause global warming.

The plan announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency would eliminate rules on methane emissions that even some major oil and gas companies have told the administration should be kept in place.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, as much as 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its impact on the climate, according to some estimates, although it breaks down relatively quickly in the atmosphere. Leaks from equipment and pipelines release it into the atmosphere.

The Obama administration adopted a rule in 2016 that ordered the oil and gas industry to step up its monitoring to look for leaks and to take new steps to prevent them.

The Trump administration’s effort to reverse course must go through a lengthy period of public comment and is not expected to take effect until early next year. When it does, opponents, including California and many environmental groups, have already said they will go to court to seek to block it.