Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Thursday proposed a new rule to roll back restrictions on the monitoring of methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it seeks to loosen regulations to save the natural gas industry "millions of dollars in compliance costs each year -- while maintaining health and environmental regulations on oil and gas sources that the agency considers appropriate."
The agency predicts its proposal would save the oil and natural gas industry $17 million to $19 million per year.
Under the proposed rule, the EPA would eliminate regulation of the transmission and storage of methane, including transmission compressor stations, pneumatic controllers and underground storage vessels. The EPA also wants to rescind limits for methane in the production and processing aspects of the industry.
"The Trump Administration recognizes that methane is valuable, and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. "Since 1990, natural gas production in the United States has almost doubled while methane emissions across the natural gas industry have fallen by nearly 15 percent. Our regulations should not stifle this innovation and progress."
The EPA's proposal is open for comment for 60 days after its published in the Federal Register.
In 2016, President Barack Obama took action to limit methane pollution as part of his government's package of climate change regulations, which aimed to cut 520,000 short tons of methane within the next decade.
Environmental organization Sierra Club said the proposed rules would be dangerous for the United States' environment.
"We will continue to fight back against this Trump administration's efforts to prioritize corporate polluter profits over our climate and our families' health," said Cheryl Johncox, Sierra Club organizing representative.
President Donald Trump has targeted Obama-era emissions standards since the beginning of his presidency in 2017, signing an executive order telling agencies to review whether regulations are burdening the energy industry.
An October analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that Trump's plans to roll back emissions targets for vehicles will cause up to 299 premature deaths each year by the middle of the 21st century. Additionally, Americans would lose out on nearly 17,000 days of work each year due to more illness.