Attorney General Schneiderman Opposes EPA's Illegal Proposed Delay Of Regulations For New Sources Of Methane Pollution In Oil And Natural Gas Industry

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2017

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ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN OPPOSES EPA’S ILLEGAL PROPOSED DELAY OF REGULATIONS FOR NEW SOURCES OF METHANE POLLUTION IN OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY

Rule Would Prevent 300,000 Tons Of Powerful Greenhouse Gas Emissions And Result In $35 Million In Net Benefits In 2020 – Growing To 510,000 Tons And $170 Million In 2025 

Today’s Comments Follow AG’s Legal Wins Against EPA Over Delays Of New Source Methane Rule And Smog Regulations; AG Schneiderman Has Also Filed Notice Of Intent To Sue Over Methane Pollution From Existing Sources

NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman – part of a coalition of 14 attorneys general, the State of Colorado, and the City of Chicago - submitted comments in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 27-month  delay of a vital rule aimed at preventing tons of methane emissions-- a powerful greenhouse gas – from new sources in the oil and gas sector.

“Yet again, the Trump EPA is putting polluters before public health,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Attorneys General have not hesitated to act when the EPA has failed to meet its obligations to protect our environment and our health. The threat of climate change is real – no matter how many times the Trump administration tries to shove it under the rug – and we’ll do what it takes to protect the people and communities we serve.”

The methane new source rule put in place under the Obama administration limits emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas by encouraging the use of emerging technology to identify, reduce, and eliminate emissions of methane and other pollution from the development, transmission, and distribution of oil and natural gas. The rule is expected to prevent 300,000 tons of methane emissions in 2020 and 510,000 tons of methane emissions in 2025. The controls required by the rule are also expected to reduce emissions of other pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. The EPA analyzed the costs and benefits of the rule, including the revenues from recovered natural gas that would otherwise be vented, and determined that the rule would result in a net benefit estimated at $35 million in 2020 and $170 million in 2025.

In the comments, the attorneys general point out that the EPA’s delay of the rule is blatantly unlawful for three main reasons: it exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act, it is arbitrary and capricious, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the delay is improper because it would achieve the result he sought in his lawsuit challenging the rule when he was the Oklahoma Attorney General. The coalition submitting the comments is being led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, warming the climate about 34 times more potently than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The oil and natural gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions and accounts for a one-third of total methane emissions in the United States.

The methane new source rule became effective on August 2, 2016. Shortly after it became effective, the rule was challenged in court by several industry groups. Several Attorneys General, including Attorney General Schneiderman, intervened in the case to defend the rule. On June 5, 2017, President Trump’s EPA issued its first three-month delay of the methane new source rule without giving notice or taking comments, arguing that the industry’s challenges raised new issues that were not addressed during the rulemaking process. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals promptly found that the delay was unlawful and terminated it. On June 16, 2017, the EPA published for notice and comment two additional proposed delays, totaling 27 months.

Today’s comments were filed by the Attorneys General of California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The State of Colorado and the City of Chicago also joined in submitting the comments.  

Click here to read the comments.

Attorney General Schneiderman has also filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump EPA for its failure to control methane pollution from existing sources.

Today’s comments follow Attorney General Schneiderman’s legal win last week against the EPA, which reversed course over a delay in vital smog regulations days after Attorney General Schneiderman filed suit.