EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler says in a statement Thursday that the agency is following President Donald Trump's directive to remove regulatory burdens on the oil and gas industries. The government's plan would rescind many of the requirements on oil and gas sites to monitor for methane leaks and plug them.
Methane is one of the most potent climate-changing gases. Environmental advocates say the measure signals the Trump administration waiving its legal authority to regulate methane as a way to fight climate change.
The oil and gas industry says the Obama-era regulations on methane were unlawful and unnecessary.
Oil and gas companies could face far looser oversight of emissions of potent climate-changing methane gas under a proposal expected from the Trump administration.
The government's plan would ease requirements on oil and gas sites to monitor for methane leaks and plug them.
The Environmental Protection Agency's move would be the latest in a series by the administration easing Obama-era emissions controls on the oil, gas and coal industries, including for methane.
Methane is a component of natural gas that's frequently wasted through leaks or intentional releases during drilling operations. The gas is considered a more potent contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide, although it occurs in smaller volumes.
Under President Donald Trump, both the Interior Department and the EPA have proposed a series of rules — some blocked by courts — to loosen regulations of methane emissions.