EPA suspends climate change rule against methane pollution

May 31 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it has placed a three-month suspension on parts of Obama administration efforts to curb methane gas emissions.

Last year, 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, a greenhouse gas, within the next decade.

The EPA’s decision Wednesday suspends that rule, in-step with President Donald Trump‘s environmental and economic agenda. Since his inauguration in January, Trump has acted to nix several Obama climate change efforts, including one mandating improved fuel efficiency for U.S.-made vehicles.

The EPA said Wednesday it issued a 90-day stay for certain revisions of the Clean Air Act implemented by the former administration, following a review of oil and gas standards ordered by Trump.

“Sources do not need to comply with these requirements while the 90-day stay is in effect,” the agency said in a news release. “EPA’s action is in line with President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, which directed the agency to review the oil and gas rules.”

Revisions to the Clean Air Act were submitted last summer in the final months of Obama’s presidency.

“Since issuing the final rules last year, EPA has received several petitions to reconsider aspects of the New Source Performance Standards,” the agency said, adding that it began to examine the standards in April.

Oil and gas advocates oppose the regulation, saying it’s costly and too restrictive. Many Republican lawmakers, though, have broken ranks with Trump on the issue. Earlier this month, the Senate defeated a House bill that attempted to repeal the methane rule before the Congressional Review Act deadline passed. The law allows lawmakers to remove any rule within its first 60 days.

With the CRA window closed, Trump’s administration is now targeting the rule via the EPA.

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In addition to methane emissions, the EPA’s action Wednesday also suspends regulations related to new pneumatic pump and professional engineer certification requirements.

The agency, which said complying with the pollution regulation would cost about $530 million, is working on a new rule on methane emissions that would be subject to public comment.

The EPA’s announcement came as Trump considers pulling the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, a global initiative to fight climate change, and as he proposes slashing the agency’s budget. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called any decision to ditch the Paris accord “a stunning abdication of American leadership.”

Environmental groups have said they would take legal action to block Trump’s efforts to roll back air pollution standards.

“On the heels of news reports that the U.S. will walk away from a global commitment to combat climate change, President Trump is sabotaging headway the U.S. has already made,” David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “The Trump administration is giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air. … We will fight Trump’s latest polluter giveaway in court.”


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