An energy industry representative says over-regulating methane emissions could discourage the use of environment-friendly natural gas, but a former Colorado air quality official says cutting methane is a cost-effective way to fight climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency heard radically different views Wednesday as it opened public hearings in Denver on its proposal to slash methane emissions from oil and gas production.

Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance says critics exaggerate the energy industry's pollution and the damage methane can do compared with carbon dioxide.

John Lowey, a former member of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, says methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. He says cutting methane would also reduce emissions of chemicals that cause ozone.

Hearings were also held in Dallas.