Possibly as early as this week, the EPA plans to publish a proposal to roll back Obama-era regulations about fastidious monitoring and repairing of methane leaks, piggybacking on the final draft rule from the Interior Department repealing limits on releasing and burning methane during drilling operations.
According to a Monday New York Times report, this is another huge blow to domestic attempts to curb climate change, along with the Trump administration’s weakening of laws regulating carbon dioxide pollution from vehicles and coal-fired power plants.
The new methane proposal would allow drillers to put off leak inspections for a year (whereas the old rule required checks every six months) and would double the time a company gets to fix a detected leak from 30 days to 60.
Per the Times, this proposal would allow oil and gas companies to earn back all the money they lost due to extra costs of stricter regulation under President Barack Obama.
But while industries may be saving on costs, the Earth is not. According to the Times, methane is one of the most pernicious greenhouse gasses, and is highly effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. A hefty fraction—about one-third—of methane pollution is a result of oil and gas production.