(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) joined Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) and more than 70 additional Members of Congress in urging the Trump Administration to keep in place a key Obama-era rule to keep methane, a highly-potent pollutant known to fuel the ongoing climate crisis, out of our atmosphere. In a bipartisan letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the lawmakers urged him to withdraw the agency’s proposal to rollback a 2016 rule that now requires oil and gas producers in the United States to capture methane that reaches the surface at their drilling sites, instead of releasing or burning it.

The Members wrote: “As you know, methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases driving climate change. The EPA’s proposed changes to the 2012 and 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the Oil and Natural Gas Sector will, according to the EPA’s own analysis, increase air pollution from the transmission and storage of oil and gas, causing preventable damage to public health and our environment.”

Methane is more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide and is a leading contributor to global warming. And, as the lawmakers noted in their letter to Wheeler, nearly 30 percent of all methane emissions in the United States come from the oil and gas sector, which led the previous administration to implement a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to take steps to curb the release of this harmful pollutant from their sites.

The Members continued: "Tackling methane’s contribution to climate change is an easy and concrete action we can take right now. It is also an opportunity to curb increasing rates of respiratory illnesses, other negative health effects, and premature deaths. We urge you to withdraw your proposal and keep these critical public health and climate change protections in place.”

Climate experts agree that reducing methane emissions in the United States and around the world is essential to addressing the ongoing climate crisis.

A signed copy of the letter is available here.