Attorney General James Joins Coalition Opposing EPA Proposal To Gut Methane Emission Standards 

Attorney General James Joins Coalition Opposing EPA
Proposal to Gut Methane Emission Standards

This dangerous proposal would increase emissions and hurt public health 

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James, joining a coalition of 21 attorneys general, the City of Chicago, the City and County of Denver, and the Colorado Department of Public Health, today filed comments opposing an unlawful proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would gut the current standards that limit emissions of methane and other harmful pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry. This sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat.  

“The EPA has continued to act recklessly in the face of climate change,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Increasing hazardous emissions of severe pollutants like Methane will hurt Americans across this country, especially our children, and we will not stand idly by while the EPA continues to roll back its previous standards. This is why I am proud to join this coalition of attorneys general to fight back. ”  

The proposed rule would increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants, methane, and volatile organic compounds (VOC), accelerating the impacts of climate change. VOC emissions contribute to the formation of ozone, which poses a significant threat to public health, particularly to children, older adults, and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.  

The weakened standards would undermine a commonsense rule that reduces harmful pollutants and recovers valuable natural gas that would otherwise be lost. The current standard, which was set in 2016, is estimated to prevent 300,000 tons of methane emissions in 2020 and 510,000 tons in 2025. In 2016, the EPA analyzed the costs and benefits of the current standard, including the revenues generated from recovered natural gas that would otherwise be vented, and determined that the standard would result in a net benefit estimated at $35 million in 2020 and $170 million in 2025. 

The coalition argues in the letter that EPA’s proposed rule is unlawful because EPA: 

  • Disregards its own previous conclusions about the substantial adverse impacts of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry, the largest domestic source of climate-warming methane;
  • Fails to justify its decision to abandon the regulation of methane; and
  • Arbitrarily eliminates pollution controls from the transmission and storage segment of the oil and natural gas sector, in direct contravention of EPA’s prior factual and legal findings.

The coalition also submitted comments in December 2018 on an earlier attempt by the EPA to weaken aspects of the current standard. 

In filing today’s letter Attorney General Letitia James joined a multistate coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia; as well as the City of Chicago, the City and County of Denver, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.