WASHINGTON—The Obama administration on Friday directed several federal agencies to clamp down on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted from natural gas and other industries, fleshing out an initiative that attempts to address environmental concerns without harming the nation’s booming natural-gas industry.

The White House move is part of President Barack Obama’s broader plan announced last June to tackle climate change. The administration’s methane strategy reflects a reluctance to commit right now to new federal regulations targeting the natural-gas industry, which could be politically unpopular. New rules could also contradict the administration’s rhetoric and actions supporting natural gas in the past few years, including the Energy Department’s conditional approval earlier this week of the seventh U.S. project to export gas. (more…)