EPA moves to halt Obama methane rule for two years

EPA moves to halt Obama methane rule for two years
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed pausing an Obama administration oil and gas pollution rule for two years while it reconsiders the regulation. 

EPA officials on Tuesday formally proposed a two-year pause on implementation of the rule, which would limit methane leaks at drilling sites and set standards for equipment and employee certification within the oil and gas drilling sector.

Obama officials finalized the rule last May as part of a federal effort to cut pollution of methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. 

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Drillers contend the rule would be costly and duplicative and have urged Trump administration regulators to reconsider the measure. The EPA, under Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE — who sued against the rule while Oklahoma attorney general — said in April that it would formally review the rule, a lengthy process that could take years to complete. Such a measure is subject to lawsuits as well.

Pausing implementation of the rule for two years would mean drillers would not need to abide by the standards while the EPA's review moves forward. The EPA’s Tuesday action is itself subject to a 30-day public comment period.

Environmental groups have sued the Trump administration over its decision to pause the rule, saying the agency doesn’t have the power to issue such a stay.