EDF, Allies Ask Court to Halt Trump EPA Effort to Weaken Pollution Protections for Oil and Gas Industry

November 13, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – November 13, 2020) Environmental Defense Fund and 10 other health and environmental groups are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to halt the second of two actions the Trump EPA took to undermine our nation’s protections against dangerous pollution from the oil and gas industry.

The groups filed a motion for a partial stay pending review of EPA’s rollback of leak detection and repair standards for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane climate pollution by parts of the oil and gas industry.

“Hundreds of thousands of people live within half a mile of oil and gas facilities that will be able to emit more dangerous pollution if EPA’s rollback goes forward,” said EDF senior attorney Rosalie Winn. “Once emitted, these pollutants cannot be captured and the harms they cause cannot be reversed.”

EPA set standards in 2016 that required the oil and gas industry to find and fix leaks of methane, VOCs, and other dangerous pollutants. Those have been reliably reducing large quantities of pollution, and protecting the health and safety of Americans, for three years.

Then two months ago, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler took two steps to undermine the successful standards. First, he rescinded methane standards across all segments of the oil and gas industry and eliminated VOC standards for the downstream segment of the industry. The next day he significantly weakened the remaining leak detection and repair standards for VOC emissions from the upstream parts of the oil and gas industry.

EDF, its allies, and a coalition of 24 states sued to stop the two actions. Last month, a divided panel of the D.C. Circuit declined to grant a stay for the first action but set an expedited schedule to hear the case on the merits.

Now the groups are asking the court to stay the second action until the case is heard on the merits. Without a stay, Wheeler’s action will allow an extra 21,000 tons of VOCs into our air in 2021 alone – putting hundreds of thousands of people’s health at risk – along with additional methane climate pollution equivalent to roughly 1.4 million cars driving for a year.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Environmental Integrity Project, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Food & Water Watch, Ft. Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club joined EDF in filing the motion.

You can find more information, including all legal briefs, on EDF’s website.

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