President Obama is rolling out major new steps to fight methane emissions, aiming to cut them by up to 45% of 2012 levels within a decade. The administration's rules will address the growing domestic oil and gas industries, whose expansion is expected to significantly increase the amount of methane sent into the atmosphere, the Los Angeles Times reports. The White House will use its executive authority in the effort against climate change, with the EPA putting new rules forward this summer to be finalized next year, the New York Times reports. The administration announced the new rules today, citing "benefits for the climate, the economy, and public health," USA Today adds.
"This is the biggest opportunity to curb climate change pollution that they haven’t already seized," says an advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. But the plan is already drawing criticism from both climate change activists, who say it doesn't go far enough, as well as industry leaders. The plan largely targets new efforts at oil and gas production rather than existing ones, which means it "misses 90% of the methane pollution from the industry," says a clean air advocate. "The administration is proposing to fight methane pollution with one hand tied behind its back." Meanwhile, the industry says new rules could hurt the current boom. A business leader tells the New York Times the industry is already "incentivized" to stop methane leaks, since "we want to bring it to market." In September, Obama similarly cracked down on power plant emissions. (Read more methane stories.)