North Dakota Seeks to Obstruct Nation’s Vital Safeguards Limiting Methane Pollution

Legal Petition Filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

July 18, 2016
Contact: 
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

North Dakota has filed a legal challenge seeking to obstruct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) vital public health and environmental protections to reduce methane and smog-forming pollution from the oil and gas industry.

The State of North Dakota is challenging the new clean air safeguards, which will reduce wasteful and dangerous methane emissions from the nation’s largest industrial source of those emissions. North Dakota petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. These standards will reduce methane emissions and will likewise help minimize harmful pollutants that contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog,” said Peter Zalzal, Lead Attorney at Environmental Defense Fund. “The standards are firmly grounded in the law and science and we look forward to vigorously defending them in court.”

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 timeframe.

The oil and gas industry currently pumps nearly 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.

The new standards were finalized in June after detailed scientific and legal review and an extensive public comment period. They are based on leading programs in Colorado, Wyoming and Ohio. The standards constitute one of the most cost-effective opportunities we have today to slow the pace of climate change.

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. EPA estimates they will eliminate 210,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and 3,900 tons of air toxics a year by 2025, and will deliver annual climate benefits of $690 million.

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.

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