The United States is home to 95 million cattle, and changing what they eat could have a significant effect on emissions of greenhouse gases like methane that are warming the world.
At a meeting last year, industry leaders contradicted public claims that emissions of climate-warming methane are under control
The Environmental Protection Agency this week finalized a rule that kills off Obama-era limitations on how much methane, a potent greenhouse gas, oil and natural gas producers are allowed to emit into the atmosphere—even though industry leaders didn’t want the changes.
The changes to the rules, known as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), remove some segments of the industry from being covered under the existing standards at all, and these changes also lift the methane caps on other segments, the EPA announced on Thursday.
The oil and gas industry basically splits into three big buckets of activity: upstream, meaning the actual drilling for oil or gas; midstream, which is the world of storage and pipelines; and downstream, that last mile where products are refined and sold. The current changes apply to the downstream and midstream segments, as the EPA broke down in a graphic (PDF).
The reversal is the latest move in the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to weaken environmental rules, but it could be quickly undone after the November election.
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The messages, made public in a lawsuit, suggest the E.P.A. rescinded a requirement on methane at the behest of an executive just weeks after President Trump took office.
Scientists expect emissions, driven by fossil fuels and agriculture, to continue rising rapidly.
Oil and gas companies are hurtling toward bankruptcy, raising fears that wells will be left leaking planet-warming pollutants, with cleanup cost left to taxpayers.