— The Obama administration is expected to propose as soon as Tuesday the first-ever federal regulation to cut emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, by the nation’s oil and natural-gas industry, officials familiar with the plan said on Monday.
The proposed rule would call for the reduction of methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade from 2012 levels, the officials said. The proposal was widely expected, after the Environmental Protection Agency said in January that it was working on such a plan.
The new rules are part of Mr. Obama’s broad push for regulations meant to cut emissions of planet-warming gases from different sectors of the economy. This month, Mr. Obama unveiled the centerpiece of that plan, a regulation meant to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, a move that could transform the way the nation produces and consumes electric power.
The new rules on methane could create a tougher regulatory scheme on the nation’s fossil fuel production, particularly on the way that companies extract, move and store natural gas.
Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to crack down on methane emissions. Most of the greenhouse gas pollution in the United States
comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but it is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on global warming.
The oil and gas industry has resisted methane regulations, insisting that new rules could stymie a booming natural gas industry and that voluntary industrywide standards are sufficient to prevent methane leaks. Mr. Obama is pressing efforts to cut harmful emissions as he works toward forging a United Nations global warming accord in Paris
in December. The aim of the accord is to commit every nation to enact policies to cut greenhouse gases. The United States has already submitted a plan to the United Nations laying out how it will cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.