US president Barack Obama has announced a plan to cut methane emissions from America's oil and gas industry by as much as 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

US president Barack Obama, in what it likely to be the last act in his campaign to limit US greenhouse gas emissions, announced on 14 January a plan to cut methane emissions from America’s oil and gas industry by as much as 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. The plan would be enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Methane is the second biggest driver of climate change, after carbon dioxide, and on a 20-year timescale it is 87 times more effective, pound for pound, as a greenhouse gas.
But it was not clear from the announcement, during a White House briefing, whether the new rules would apply to existing oil and gas installations in addition to future sources of carbon pollution, which could weaken their effectiveness in fighting climate change.
"Making a relatively small adjustment to reducing methane emissions will have an outsized impact on our success in reducing carbon pollution. So that’s why this step … is an important one," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. And Democrat senator Tom Carper applauded Obama for taking an important step to reduce America’s methane emissions, which accounted for nearly 10 % of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2012.

However, Republican senators argued that such move would not only be ineffective but would also make US businesses less competitive unless countries like India, China and Russia take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

The Republicans – who are now in a majority in the Congress – have introduced legislation (the Carbon Tax Resolution) in the US Senate to prohibit any regulation regarding carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the US until China, India, and Russia implement similar reductions.

If the preparations in the run-up to the presidential visit of Barack Obama to India during the Republic Day are any indication, climate change is expected to be a major issue of discussion between India and the US.

Leonard Sanford