The Trump administration laid out today a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities.

It would also reopen the question of whether the E.P.A. had the legal authority to regulate methane as a pollutant.

The rollback is particularly notable because major energy companies have, in fact, spoken out against it — joining automakers, electric utilities and other industrial giants that have opposed other administration initiatives to dismantle climate-change and environmental rules.

Several of the world’s largest auto companies are pushing back against President Trump’s plans to let vehicles pollute more, saying those rollbacks stand to split the United States auto market in two, while utilities have opposed the relaxation of restrictions on toxic mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants.

The weakening of the methane standard is the latest in a historic march of environmental-policy rollbacks by the Trump administration designed to loosen regulations on industry.

Trump has instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska’s 16.7-million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions imposed nearly 20 years ago.

The move would affect more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, opening it to potential logging, energy and mining projects.

It would undercut a sweeping Clinton administration policy known as the “roadless rule,” which has survived a decades-long legal assault.

Trump has also sought to open millions of acres of public land and water to drilling, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has lifted an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public land.

This month, the Interior Department completed a plan to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Later this year the E.P.A. plans to roll back clean-water regulations affecting streams and wetlands.

“The Trump E.P.A. is eager to give the oil and gas industry a free pass to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air,” said David Doniger, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “If E.P.A. moves forward with this reckless and sinister proposal, we will see them in court.”

 

Attribution:The New York Times
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