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Gene J. Puskar / AP

Some global oil-and-gas companies are splitting from smaller, more domestic players over whether EPA should alter or simply jettison methane emissions standards for new wells.

Why it matters: The side that prevails could signal which industry faction wields the most influence as the White House upends Obama-era policies. Oh, and methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.

What's happening: This week EPA Chief Scott Pruitt said companies can forgo compliance with Obama's 2016 methane rule for at least three months. The move sets up a debate over whether to make Obama's mandate more industry-friendly, or scrap it outright.

Battle lines: Big international companies like Royal Dutch Shell want a less restrictive methane rule on the books, industry sources say. One reason is because the massive companies can comply easily. Another is that favoring the rule enables the industry to tout natural gas as a solution to climate change. (Burning natural gas spews way less carbon dioxide than coal, but methane leaks can erode much of that climate advantage.)

But there are two reasons independent producers like Devon Energy want the rule killed with no replacement:

  1. Compliance costs are a bigger deal for independents than behemoths like ExxonMobil.
  2. Independents are more ideologically opposed to Obama's EPA agenda and don't believe the agency should regulate methane.

Our thought bubble: Pruitt may be more inclined to side with the independent players. They're the top producers in Oklahoma, where he served as attorney general and had close ties to those companies.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.