Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Opposing EPA Proposal to Gut Standards for Harmful Super Pollutant Methane and Ozone-Causing Emissions
This dangerous proposal would increase emissions and hurt public health
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading 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.
“Yet again, the Trump Administration is trying to gut a commonsense standard that protects our health and our planet from one of the most potent emissions that contributes to climate change,” said Attorney General Becerra. “EPA’s short-sighted proposal would benefit the very polluters it is charged to watchdog. We demand Administrator Wheeler withdraw this unlawful proposal or we’ll see him in court.”
The proposed rule would increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants, methane, and volatile organic compounds (VOC), thereby 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.
Attorney General Becerra leads the coalition including the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, 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.
A copy of today's comment letter filed can be found here.
Attorney General Becerra and the coalition also submitted comments in December 2018 on an earlier attempt by the EPA to weaken aspects of the current standard.
Attorney General Becerra has taken other measures to resist the Trump Administration‘s efforts to dismantle standards protecting public health and the environment from dangerous methane emissions. In May 2018, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit against the EPA over its failure to implement landfill methane regulation. Just a month earlier, Attorney General Becerra, with the California Air Resources Board, joined a multistate lawsuit against the EPA for unreasonably delaying issuance of guidelines limiting methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector.