Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Opposing EPA’s Illegal Proposed Delay of Rule Limiting Methane Emissions

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Rule Prevents Tons of Methane Emissions from New Sources in Oil and Gas Sector

SACRAMENTO – Leading a coalition of 14 attorneys general, the State of Colorado, and the City of Chicago, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today submitted comments in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 27-month compliance delay of an important public health rule put forward during the Obama Administration. The methane new source rule now in place limits emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas by encouraging the use of emerging technology in leak monitoring and setting a fixed schedule for monitoring leaks at all well sites and compressor stations. 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. 

“This is a commonsense rule that eliminates emissions of dangerous pollutants like methane and volatile organic compounds,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In doing so, this rule helps us tackle climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. Global warming is real, and the Trump Administration has a responsibility to ensure that it does not wreak havoc on the lives of Americans. If the Trump Administration is not prepared to protect our families, then we as attorneys general will.”

Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has been fighting to protect our environment. Among other actions, he has challenged the EPA’s illegal delay of important national air quality control standards, and the EPA subsequently backed down; expressed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s “review” of national marine sanctuaries and national monuments; and submitted legal objections to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for not making the required safety finding for chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on more than 80 food crops.

A copy of the comments can be found oag.ca.gov/news.

Background:

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. California, along with other states, intervened in the case to defend the rule. On June 5, 2017, President Donald 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.

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