A federal court has overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stay on the implementation of regulations on methane emissions for new oil and natural gas drilling wells.
Federal judges gave environmentalists a legal win Monday by preventing the Trump administration from staying an Obama-era global warming rule while the EPA considers repealing it altogether.
The court ruled that the “EPA’s decision to impose a stay, in other words, was ‘arbitrary, capricious,'” because “it was thus not ‘impracticable’ for industry groups to have raised such objections during the notice and comment period.”
The EPA imposed the methane rule as part of former President Barack Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” to fight global warming. The rule was one of the key regulations that Obama hoped would help the U.S. comply with the Paris climate accord.
In late April, the EPA issued a 90-day stay on implementing the methane rule, which the Obama administration finalized in 2016, after oil industry groups argued that they didn’t have the chance to review all the new requirements for limiting emissions.
President Donald Trump ordered the EPA to review the methane rule in March as part of a larger executive order targeting Obama-era climate and environmental regulations.
Environmentalists filed suit, urging federal judges to overturn the EPA’s stay on the methane rule. Judges on the D.C. Circuit Court sided activist attorneys with the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.
Environmentalists are seeking to preserve what they can of the Obama administration’s environmental agenda. Activists say that the rule would protect public health and reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
— John Walke (@jwalkenrdc) July 3, 2017
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which many scientists blame for contributing to global warming.
Critics say that the methane rule was a regulation in search of a problem, pointing to research showing that methane emissions from oil and gas drilling have plummeted, despite a huge increase drilling operations.
A May study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers found that the EPA may have relied on inflated estimates of methane emissions to justify regulating the oil and gas industry.
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