States Sue To Keep Obama Methane Rule In Place


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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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The attorneys general of California and New Mexico filed a joint lawsuit against the Department of the Interior (DOI) for suspending a regulation limiting methane output at oil and gas drilling sites, according to a California Department of Justice press release.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a stay on the Obama era Waste Prevention Rule June 13 to increase regulatory stability for the petroleum industry as the agency decides whether the rule will be kept under President Donald Trump’s administration.

“President Trump should put the health of the American people over the profits of private companies,” California attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a statement Wednesday. “This is a commonsense rule that both helps our children breathe cleaner air and protects our planet. It should be implemented as is legally required. We refuse to let blatant violations of the law go unchallenged.”

Becerra claims the EPA’s action is illegal because Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act, invoked by the EPA to justify the stay, only applies to regulations that have not gone into effect. The Waste Prevention Rule had been in effect for months before the stay was issued.

The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled Monday postponement of the Obama regulation is illegal. The rule could be revoked, however, if the EPA made a new rule undoing the Waste Prevention Rule, The New York Times reports.

After the Obama administration unveiled the methane regulation in May 2016, 13 states sued the administration claiming the new methane standards were an overreach by the federal government, The Hill reported at the time.

“This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach jeopardizing West Virginia jobs and working families,” West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey said in a statement according to The Hill. “The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry’s success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low.”

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