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Photo: Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it was easing up on requirements for oil and gas producers and making other changes to an Obama-era rule cutting emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as it works toward a broader repeal in the coming months.

Why it matters: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that’s also the primary component of natural gas. It’s sometimes purposefully or inadvertently leaked in the production and transport of the fuel — and when drilling for oil. The EPA has been slow in its approach toward rolling back Obama-era methane rules.

One level deeper: As we reported a few weeks ago, the agency is set to later propose a broader draft rule that includes a range of regulatory options, but likely contains a preference for wholly rolling back direct rules cutting methane from new wells, according to an administration official. The proposal will instead point to a separate air-pollution rule issued in 2012 that inadvertently cuts methane emissions as it targets other air pollutants.

The big picture: The EPA’s methane moves are the latest in a broad regulatory rollback ordered by President Trump. The Interior Department is working on repealing another rule cutting methane emissions from oil and gas wells on federally owned lands. Other big rules that have been rolled back and/or replaced with far looser versions include the cutting of carbon emissions from power plants and stricter fuel-efficiency standards of cars.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.