States, Oil and Gas Industry Groups File Court Petitions Challenging Vital Protections from Methane Pollution

August 2, 2016


A group of states — including West Virginia, Alabama and the Attorney General of Michigan — and a group of oil and gas industry associations — including the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) — are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block vital climate change and public health protections that will reduce methane and smog-forming pollution from the oil and gas industry.

The group of 14 states and state agencies, the IPAA and other groups, and the Western Energy Alliance filed petitions challenging the standards with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. They join the states of Texas and North Dakota which also petitioned to block the recently finalized emissions safeguards.

“The standards will reduce methane pollution that is driving major changes in our climate, and likewise will minimize other pollutants that harm public health. It’s unfortunate that these states and industry groups are using resources to challenge these commonsense protections, when instead America should be cooperating to address threats to our climate and air,” 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 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.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in June, after detailed scientific and legal review and an extensive public comment period. 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 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.

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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