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Photo: Cooper Neill / Bloomberg via Getty Images

America’s biggest oil company is supporting a federal regulation on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s also the primary component of natural gas.

Why it matters: The move puts the oil and gas giant at odds with many of its smaller peers that are urging President Trump to wholly repeal an environmental regulation issued by the Obama administration. It’s the latest and among the most significant signs that some of the biggest fossil-fuel companies want regulatory certainty over outright deregulation.

The gritty details:

  • Sara Ortwein, president of XTO Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exxon, said in a blog post published on Exxon’s website Monday that the producer had recently joined European oil and gas companies in committing to a set of voluntary methane reductions.
  • She goes on to say the methane emissions of those companies “constitute a very small fraction of the overall natural gas picture. The correct mix of policies and regulations help raise the bar.”
  • An Exxon spokesman told Axios in an email that “we’re sharing our view with regulators.”

Yes, but: Company officials fell short of saying they are explicitly calling on the Trump administration to actually issue regulations. It's a subtle but important distinction that's similar to its public support of a carbon tax, despite not actively lobbying Congress to pass one.

What’s next: The Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency are both still working out to what degree (if at all) they issue regulations on methane, after working to repeal the ones the Obama administration had issued. The Interior’s rule under Obama would have affected existing and new wells on federal lands only. The EPA rule under Obama would have affected only new wells but on all types of lands.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

35 mins ago - Health

First known U.S. case of the Omicron variant identified in California

PhotoL Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.

Supreme Court appears likely to roll back abortion rights

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps to let states ban the procedure altogether.

The intrigue: The court seemed likely to throw out the framework established in Roe v. Wade, but it wasn't clear whether a majority of the justices were inclined to overturn the court's precedents entirely.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

How to meme a painting

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

How can a physical artwork become an NFT? One new company has just spent $12.9 million on a Banksy in an attempt to try out a new way of converting the real into the virtual.

Why it matters: The art market globally sees volume of about $60 billion per year, almost all of which is trade in physical objects. Art-world insiders including former Christie's c0-chair Loïc Gouzer are on the lookout for ways to monetize physical paintings without necessarily giving up physical ownership of them.