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SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: February 13, 2018

SNIP: The Trump administration has taken its first step on a slow path to loosen curbs on methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public land, after legal roadblocks stymied its efforts to quickly set aside Obama-era rules on the potent greenhouse gas.

Matt Watson, associate vice president for climate energy at Environmental Defense Fund, said the Trump administration’s proposal would roll back every emissions reduction provision of the Obama rule. It would revert to a regime so lax that between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas producers on public and Indian lands vented, flared and leaked about 462 billion cubic feet of natural gas—enough gas to supply about 6.2 million households for a year. Estimated losses to the taxpayers in royalties ranged from $23 million to nearly $60 million annually.

The Obama administration had estimated its rule to rein in BLM emissions would curb the equivalent of 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, as much as the greenhouse gas emissions from 950,000 vehicles.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to halt the Obama rule to rein in emissions from new oil and gas operations, and the agency abandoned an effort to collect information to write a rule for existing oil and gas facilities.

The latest draft inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions shows methane emissions from oil and gas operations in 2016 were equivalent to 201.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, down 1 percent from the prior year but up 5 percent from 2012 levels. That puts the methane emissions from oil and gas industry leaks on par with a year’s worth of emissions from 50 coal plants.