New York, other Democrat attorneys general allege EPA methane inaction

New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman and other Democrat attorneys general from 13 more states, as well as the District of Columbia’s independent AG and the City of Chicago’s corporation council, sued US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator E. Scott Pruitt for allegedly refusing to control methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations under the Clean Air Act.

New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman and other Democrat attorneys general from 13 more states, as well as the District of Columbia’s independent AG and the City of Chicago’s corporation council, sued US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator E. Scott Pruitt for allegedly refusing to control methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations under the Clean Air Act.

The Apr. 5 lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Columbia aims to compel Pruitt and EPA to establish methane emission limits from such oil and gas operations that the AGs collectively say have been unreasonably delayed. “Its continued refusal to do so is not only illegal, but threatens our public health and environment, and squanders savings of over $100 million annually,” Schneiderman said as he announced the legal challenge in Albany.

Their action came nearly a year after Pruitt and EPA said it would reconsider its rule covering methane emissions from new, reconstructed, and modified oil and gas sources and stayed its compliance rule for 90 days while it took comments (OGJ Online, Apr. 19, 2017). The suit’s plaintiffs notified EPA on June 29 that they intended to sue EPA within 180 days if the agency did not begin not regulating methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations.

“The need for EPA to proceed promptly with the regulation of existing sources is especially pressing because the lion’s share of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector comes from existing sources,” the suit said. “Indeed, sources in existence prior to 2012 are projected to be responsible for up to 90% of the methane emissions in the oil and gas sector in 2018.”

Schneiderman was joined in the lawsuit by Democrat AGs from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as District of Columbia AG Karl A. Racine, who is an Independent, and City of Chicago Corporation Counsel Edward N. Siskel.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

More in Government