The Environmental Protection Agency's offices in downtown Denver. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding its only public hearing on the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Obama-era rules for methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Nearly 125 people have asked to speak at the daylong session in Denver on Wednesday.

The EPA wants to replace a 2016 rule by the Obama administration that required energy companies to step up the detection and elimination of methane leaks at well sites and other oil and gas facilities.

Methane is the primary component of natural gas. It is also a greenhouse gas.

The EPA says relaxing the 2016 rules will save $75 million annually in regulatory costs. But the agency concedes it would allow additional methane into the atmosphere, which could degrade air quality and worsen public health.

Environmental groups are fiercely pushing back on the change. On Tuesday evening in downtown Denver, the group Earthworks projected images of methane being emitted from oil and gas sites as part of their protests. 

Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, is one of those speaking out against the rule change. 

“It makes absolutely no sense why the Trump administration would want to repeal the national methane standards,” he said on a conference call Tuesday with reporters. 

Colorado has served as a model for methane emissions rules.

Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report. 

The Associated Press