Energy

Natural Gas State Suing EPA Over ‘Capricious’ Methane Rules

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Chris White Tech Reporter

North Dakota filed a lawsuit Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over methane emission rules the state calls “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.”

The lawsuit, filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, argues the arbitrary nature of the rules will significantly affect North Dakota’s large shale oil operations. The rule was made in May and requires natural gas producers dramatically reduce methane leaks at drilling sites.

The rule is part and parcel to President Barack Obama’s mission to reduce methane emissions 40-45 percent by 2025.

Scientists and environmentalists blame methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, for contributing to so-called man-made global warming. Methane is a fleeting gas and is short-lived, unlike the greenhouse emissions from carbon dioxide, which can linger in the climate for longer periods of time.

The lawsuit was filed in part because North Dakota has become a fixture in the natural gas industry. A methane rule that curbs the state’s production could potentially hurt its economic standing and perhaps even reduce American natural gas production.

Hydraulic fracturing produces more than 67 percent of U.S. natural gas, according to a report published in May by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The country produced 79 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2015, smashing the previous record by 5 percent, according to the EIA report.

Most of that production came from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota, as well as the Eagle Ford formation in Texas and the Permian Basin formations in Texas and New Mexico.

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