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Oil and gas industry notches win with EPA emissions ruling

EPA said it's listened to state concerns and reversed course on methane emissions disclosure.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil and gas industry notches win with EPA emissions ruling
U.S. oil and gas trade group welcomes steps taken by the White House to lay off a call to release information on methane emissions. Photo by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock

March 3 (UPI) -- An oil and trade group said steps by the Trump administration to ease regulatory burdens on emissions would help ensure American leadership on the energy stage.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it was abandoning measures that called for the disclosure of methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, though a handful of states argued the measure would inhibit the economic benefits of the oil and gas industry. Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton said the measures, imposed in November, would have "dubious" environmental benefits.

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The American Petroleum Institute, which has challenged the EPA in court, said the steps taken by President Donald Trump eased what it considered unnecessary rules that impede oil and natural gas development.

"The United States is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas and in the reduction of carbon emissions, and we look forward to working with the administration on lawful, common sense regulations that create jobs and benefit American consumers," Director for Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman said in a statement.

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The November order from the EPA said methane is among the more prevalent greenhouse gases emitted in the United States and nearly 30 percent of those emissions come from oil and natural gas production. According to the EPA at the time, the oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement the environmental regulator reversed course after reviewing comments from state attorney general and governors.

"By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states," he said.

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Pruitt as EPA administrator concerned some critics of the Trump administration as he's leading an agency he once sued while serving as Oklahoma's attorney general.

The World Meteorological Organization said last year that, in the 15 years since 1990, there was a 37 percent increase in the warming impact on the climate because of the atmospheric influence of greenhouse gases like CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.

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