EDF Moves to Defend Vital Protections to Reduce Methane Pollution

EDF, Other Health and Clean Air Advocates Ask Court for Permission to Intervene in Litigation

August 16, 2016
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org


Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), together with other leading public health and environmental groups, has taken formal steps to go to court in defense of vital climate change and public health protections that will reduce methane and smog-forming pollution from the oil and gas industry.

EDF and the other groups filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last night asking to intervene in lawsuits challenging those clean air protections. The lawsuits were filed earlier this month by a group of oil and gas industry interests along with 15 states.

“The standards are firmly grounded in science and the law. They will reduce methane pollution, a significant contributor to climate change, and will also reduce other harmful pollutants that are dangerous to public health,” said Peter Zalzal, Lead Attorney at Environmental Defense Fund. “We look forward to presenting a robust defense in court.”

Along with EDF, the motion to intervene was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, the Clean Air Council, Earthworks, and the Environmental Integrity Project. A group of nine states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and the city of Chicago also filed a separate motion to intervene in defense of the standards today.

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas and a common byproduct of oil production. It has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame.

The oil and gas industry is the largest source of methane pollution in the nation. The industry currently pumps almost 10 million metric tons of methane into the air each year from leaks and other releases. That wasted gas is worth almost $2 billion, and is enough to supply seven million American homes for a year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in June, after a rigorous scientific and technical review and an extensive public comment period. The standards will have the same 20-year climate benefit as closing 11 coal-fired power plants or taking 8.5 million cars off the road

The standards are based on leading programs in states like Colorado and Wyoming. They constitute one of the most cost-effective and important opportunities we have today to slow the pace of climate change. The standards have won wide support among Americans. More than 800,000 people, including business, religious, environmental, health, and community leaders have weighed in supporting these vital protections.

You can read more about the methane standards, and find all the legal documents in the case, on EDF’s website.

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