The Trump administration is poised to roll back existing regulations on methane gas as early as this week, The New York Times reported Monday.
The proposal would weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies must monitor and repair any methane leaks, according to documents the Times reviewed. The new rule is anticipated to allow for far more air pollution and leaks of the gas.
The proposed rule would be the third major step the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made this year to change the way air pollutants are regulated.
Since January, the agency has taken strides to roll back two capstone Obama-era rules that aimed to regulate tailpipe emissions from cars and carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.
While methane only makes up about 10 percent of greenhouse gases, according to the EPA, the methane rule was key to the Obama administration’s push to lessen the impacts of climate change. Methane, a primary component of natural gas, can be a dangerous fume.
The two largest contributors of methane are leaks from natural gas systems and the raising of livestock.
In July, the EPA signed off on another rule exempting farmers from reporting methane emissions from cattle. The rule came from just-passed legislation that exempted farmers from having to report emissions derived from animal waste and other pollutants.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management announced in February that it too would be looking to replace a regulation from former President Obama that would limit the amount of methane allowed to be emitted into the air through drilling. The byproduct typically occurred due to venting or burning off the fuel. The Times said the final version of the rule is expected to be released in coming days.