EPA to kick off comment period for methane pollution rule rollback

EPA to kick off comment period for methane pollution rule rollback
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The public comment period will soon begin for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial proposal to ease the Obama administration’s methane pollution standards for oil and natural gas drillers, according to the Federal Register.

The proposed change will be published Monday in the Federal Register. EPA will then accept comments from companies, environmental groups, states and the public until Dec. 17.

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The Trump administration announced just over a month ago that it would seek to remove some key provisions of the 2015 rule, mainly to cut methane leak monitoring and reporting requirements, permit “alternative” leak prevention technologies and reduce qualifications for engineers who certify equipment, among other changes.

While major parts of the 2015 rule intended to cut down on methane pollution remain in place, the EPA is likely to seek to repeal or change those in the future.

Methane is a greenhouse gas, at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide for global warming. It is the main component in natural gas.

The EPA estimated that drillers would save $484 million over six years as a result of the rollback. It would bring 380,000 additional tons of methane emissions and about 100,000 tons of volatile organic compounds.

The agency must analyze the comments at the end of the comment period before finalizing the proposal.