Attorney General Rosenblum challenges EPA rollback of methane regulations for oil and gas industries

September 14, 2020
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Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined a coalition of 24 states and municipalities today challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent attack on methane standards applicable to the oil and gas industries. The petition for review, filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, concerns a set of new rules that rollback existing standards that limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry.

“Today we filed a multistate challenge to the EPA’s sweeping rollback of regulations limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas industries,” Attorney General Rosenblum said. “Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas—more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere.  We must not allow critical environmental protections to be stripped away. Our children—and our planet—deserve better.”

On August 13, 2020, the EPA announced a set of rules gutting the 2016 standards. The new rules eliminate leak detection and monitoring requirements, and they include policy amendments rescinding requirements to regulate methane and removing the transmission and storage category entirely from regulation. Together, these changes are expected to increase emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous air pollutants by 850,000, 140,000, and 5,000 tons respectively by 2030—exacerbating the impacts of climate change and threatening public health—particularly the health of children, older adults, and people suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.

“There is no doubt that these rule changes will have dramatic and negative impacts,” AG Rosenblum commented.  Oil and natural gas operations—production, processing, transmission, and storage—make up the largest single industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S. and the second largest industrial source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions behind only electric power plants. The coalition plans to argue that the EPA’s rollback of the standards violates the Clean Air Act because it arbitrarily eliminates pollution controls from the transmission and storage segment of the oil and natural gas sector and entirely abandons the regulation of methane without any justification.

Attorney General Rosenblum joins the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, the City of Chicago, the City and County of Denver, the California Air Resources Board, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in filing the lawsuit.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.