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A natural gas filtration system in Mifflin Township, Pennsylvania. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back regulations on methane emissions not only poses environmental risks, but also jeopardizes new leak-detection technologies that could create high-paying jobs nationwide.

Why it matters: Reducing emissions of methane — a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential up to 34 times that of carbon dioxide over 100 years — is critical to maintaining the emissions advantages of natural gas over coal, especially as U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) grow.

What's happening: A new generation of mobile sensors installed on trucks, drones and planes can detect methane leaks quickly and effectively, a study of the recent Mobile Monitoring Challenge found.

  • Scientists, oil and gas operators, and state agencies have been working together to update existing regulations.

The impact: Early-stage companies developing this technology are poised to expand, but scrapping methane regulations could freeze their growth in the oil and gas communities where sensors would be deployed.

Between the lines: The administration has touted the rollback as a life jacket for small producers, but by its own estimates their savings could be as little as $2,000 per year.

  • Meanwhile, the move has met with pushback from American Petroleum Institute Members like ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, who don't want higher methane emissions to undercut the benefits of natural gas.

What's needed: Colorado, which in February 2014 became the first state to put forward its own methane regulations, offers a better example. It required oil and gas companies to conduct periodic leak detection and repair surveys and mandated additional measures for tanks and other large methane sources.

  • The state's policies were hailed as a model by the Environmental Defense Fund and earned Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment a Clean Air Excellence Award from the EPA. They also enjoy overwhelming support among oil and gas companies.
  • Other states could take a cue from Colorado’s collaborative approach, which prioritizes the largest methane sources to reduce emissions at a lower cost.

Arvind Ravikumar is an assistant professor at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and a non-resident fellow at the Payne Institute. Morgan Bazilian is a professor of public policy and director of the Payne Institute at Colorado School of Mines.

Go deeper

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has be charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

4 hours ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

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