The Attorneys General from 14states, led by New York Attorney General Schneiderman [official website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official websites] over the EPA’s failure to limit methane emissions from sources in the oil and gas sector.
Schneiderman is joined by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago.
The lawsuit claims that the failure to act by the EPA violates the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to establish guidelines without unreasonable delay when the Administrator finds that a source “cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” The oil and gas industry are responsible for 31 percent of the total methane emissions in the US.
The lawsuit states that the EPA released five technical reports in 2014 on sources and mitigation techniques to control methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. The EPA had promulgated standards for methane emissions for new and modified oil and natural gas sources in June 2016 and published an information collection request (ICR) in November 2016. However, in March 2017, Administrator Scot Pruitt [official website] withdrew the ICR. The lawsuit claims that a March 2018 proposal to withdraw the 2016 Control Techniques Guidelines for the oil and gas industry show a disinterest by the EPA to regulate air pollutant emissions.
The lawsuit is requesting that the court find the EPA’s failure to publish guidelines for the control of methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector violates the Clean Air Act. It also requests that the EPA be ordered to propose and promulgate emission guidelines for methane emissions in the oil and gas sector.
The lawsuit comes after a series of efforts by the EPA to rollback various emission standards. Earlier this month Pruitt announced intent to revise [JURIST report] greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks. In February 2017 Pruitt announced intent [JURIST report] to rollback Obama era regulations.