HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of methane gas emission rules put in place under the Obama administration, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.
The administration of President Donald Trump in September proposed weakening requirements for repairing leaks of the greenhouse gas in drilling operations in a step toward rolling back an Obama-era policy that was intended to combat climate change.
“We support maintaining the key elements of the underlying regulation, such as leak detection and repair programs,” Exxon Vice President Gantt Walton said in the letter dated on Monday.
The company believes “reasonable regulations help reduce emissions” and support the use of cleaner-burning natural gas, the letter said.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, leaks from oil and gas wells during drilling. It accounts for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions but has more than 80 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it escapes into the atmosphere.
The oil and gas industry is the largest single source of U.S. methane emissions, according to EPA data.
Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Tom Brown and Bill Berkrot