The primary proposal asks to rescind the 2016 methane emissions requirements while leaving VOC emissions in place. Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are equivalent to the emissions of one-quarter of all cars in the US, according to US EPA data. The new rules follow the president's directive to lift regulations on the energy sector in favor of expanding oil and natural gas production.
Trump administration officials, and the president himself, have gleefully touted the White House's success in ramping up American production of methane-emitting natural gas, which Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg infamously described as "molecules of US freedom".
But its potency in trapping heat is about 84-87 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year-period, falling to 28-36 times greater over 100 years, according to United Nations figures.
The oil and gas industry is the nation's primary source of methane emissions, according to the EPA, accounting for almost one-third in 2016.
The government's plan would ease requirements on oil and gas sites to monitor for methane leaks and plug them.
Federal government announces plan to dramatically reduce methane emissions
"The increase in methane has contributed significantly to the accelerated global warming and climate disruption the Earth has experienced in recent years", Howarth said in an email.
A US proposal to ease regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions will create another competitive advantage for American producers over Canadians, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says. Controls on other regulated pollutants would also capture methane in the pipeline, said Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute.
"There is a minimal cost of doing business in the fossil fuel industry", John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, said. "A lot of mom and pops would have their wells shut-in, elderly people with wells on their properties that could be shut down".
A White House evaluate of the proposal has been concluded, setting the stage for Thursday's announcement, in response to individuals familiar with the matter who requested not to be named before the decision has been made public. Shell told the administration it wanted methane emissions to be regulated.
"Shell remains committed to achieving our target of maintaining methane emissions intensity below 0.2% by 2025 for all operated assets globally", Shell U.S. President Gretchen Watkins said in a statement. The EPA estimated that the rollback would save companies a total of up to $19 million annually-a small sum for oil majors, but a significant expense for some other firms. US EPA notes that "details of the hearing will be announced shortly".
Sen. Tom Carper of DE, top Democrat on the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, said, "The Trump administration has continued to pursue a course that would increase profit margins for the oil and gas industry, even if it means cutting commonsense public health and environmental protections".
New York Attorney General Letitia James decried the plan as part of an "unconscionable assault on the environment", and vowed to "use the full power of my office to fight back against this".