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EPA Walks Back Methane Rule for Oil and Gas Industry

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Wednesday that it will reconsider a Barack Obama-era rule to curb emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic air pollutants from the oil and gas industry. The rule, which was finalized in June of 2016 and would have gone into effect in June of this year, was expected to prevent more than 500,000 tons of methane emissions by 2025—an amount equivalent to 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But as soon as it was passed, the rule faced immediate legal challenges from oil and gas companies and several state attorneys general.

“American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized,” EPA head Scott Pruitt said in a statement. In a letter notifying oil and gas companies of the EPA’s plan to reconsider the rule, Pruitt wrote that the petitions “raised at least one objection to the fugitive emissions monitoring requirements included in the Final Rule that arose after the comment period or was impracticable to raise during the comment period,” prompting the agency to push back the compliance date for 90 days, during which time the EPA will accept public comments.