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EPA to relax greenhouse gas emission requirements

Posted August 13, 2020 1:58 p.m. EDT

— The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to reduce emissions standards for a potent greenhouse gas linked to the climate crisis.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Thursday he will announce a reduction in Obama-era standards on some industrial methane emissions, which are more potent than carbon dioxide.

Wheeler said the change will apply to oil and gas wells outputting less than 15 barrels daily and that it would be offset by technological improvements, according to the paper.

"We'll still be getting the methane reductions," the paper quoted Wheeler as saying, "because the same technology is used to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and methane."

The Natural Resources Defense Council said the change is "a green light to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air," and said it planned to challenge the rule in court.

Moms Clean Air Force said the rule "is especially troubling right now, because we know that these same lung problems can put people at a higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19."

The 2016 rule is one of several pollution measures the Trump administration has worked to repeal, overhaul, or eliminate. In 2017, then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's move to stop enforcement of the rule while reconsidering it was blocked by a federal appeals court.

Although some smaller oil and gas producers support the change, a few major players in the industry have noted their opposition. When the administration proposed the rule, Shell told CNN it generally supported the Obama-era rule and ExxonMobil said it was urging the EPA to keep much of the existing rule.

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