The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced 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 t of methane, a greenhouse gas, within the next decade.
The EPA's decision 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 US-made vehicles. The EPA said 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. 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, the 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 is 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. In addition to methane emissions, the EPA's action 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 US$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 has said he is pulling the US 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.
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