U.S. EPA Reverses Obama-Era Request for Methane Emission Data from Oil and Gas Companies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will no longer ask oil and gas well operators to submit information about their equipment or methane emissions — reversing a climate initiative launched by the Obama administration just two days after Donald Trump’s election.

Methane is short-lived, but powerful greenhouse gas. Over the short term, it can trap heat at least 30 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, and is thought to be responsible for about a quarter of modern global warming. According to several scientific studies, it has been leaking at high rates from existing oil and gas wells and pipelines. The Obama-era initiative was meant to gather information on just how much methane is escaping into the atmosphere and how companies and the government can reduce such leaks.

In its decision to halt the information request, the EPA cited a letter by the attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states, the Washington Post reported. The letter argued that the request “furthers the previous administration’s climate agenda and supports… the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous.”