EPA Scraps Methane Emission Reporting Rule

Carol Collier director of watershed programs for the Academy of Natural Sciences says the EPA plays a vital role in making sure states enforce environmental rules. She says budget cuts could threaten how states protect water and air

The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn an Obama-era request for methane emissions information from 15,000 oil and gas companies nationwide - a decision the Trump administration made after 11 states said the request amounted to "harassment".

In November, two days after Donald Trump was elected president, the EPA issued a request for information from companies needed to help it determine how to reduce methane and other emissions from existing sources.

The letter asked the EPA chief to "suspend and withdraw" the reporting rule.

While scientists at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say methane is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, the emissions are 28 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over a 100-year period.

The rule on methane emission reporting, part of efforts to combat climate change by reducing said emissions, was issued in a directive from the EPA in November previous year. The canyon burst released over 107,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere.

Pruitt says that removing the reporting request signals that EPA under his leadership takes state concerns seriously and is "committed to strengthening our partnership with the states".

The letter was signed by Paxton and the governors or attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The agency is also discussing implications stemming from California's waiver from the EPA to set its own vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions standards, some of the people said. "Today's action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry, " he said in a statement. This action also comes after the agency received a letter on March 1, 2017, from nine state Attorneys General and the Governors of MS and Kentucky, expressing concern with the pending Information Collection Request for Oil and Gas Facilities.

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