EPA Wants Methane Emissions Cut Up To 40 Percent By 2025

The Obama administration is finalizing a rule to cut methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production by nearly half over the next decade.

A rule issued Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency would cut methane from drilling by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. It's part of an ongoing push by the president to curb climate change.

The rule would make energy producers find and repair leaks at oil and gas wells and capture gas that escapes from wells that use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Methane is a component of natural gas. It's far more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, making it a top target for environmentalists worried about global warming.

The news comes on the heels of a new study that says the oil-producing region of North Dakota and Montana leaks 275,000 tons of methane annually. That's an amount that's less than previously reported.

Researchers say the amount of methane leaking from the Bakken is similar to the emission rate from the oil-rich Denver-Julesburg Basin in Colorado. But Colorado is already two years ahead of the rest of the country in trying to get a lid on the powerful greenhouse gas.