SACRAMENTO – A coalition of 15 Attorneys General and the city of Chicago, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday over the agency’s failure to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas operations, as required under federal law.
Methane is many times more dangerous in trapping heat than carbon dioxide, and the majority of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector – up to 90 percent – comes from existing equipment.
The Attorneys General filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They submitted an intent to sue letter over this matter on June 29, 2017.
“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a legal responsibility to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas operations. We are taking him to court to ensure that he lives up to that obligation,” Becerra said. “The stakes could not be higher – climate change is the most important global environmental issue of our time. We need EPA Administrator Pruitt to quit stalling and do his job.”
According to the Clean Air Act, because regulations were issued for new sources of oil and natural gas operations, the EPA Administrator must also issue guidelines for existing sources. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not done so, and as a result, is in violation of the Clean Air Act.
Reducing methane emissions is an important component of California’s climate change strategy, as illustrated by the California Air Resources Board’s regulation limiting methane emissions from both new and existing oil and natural gas sector sources, which became effective on October 1, 2017. While California has issued its own stringent rules, the climate change impacts from this industry will not be adequately reduced if the EPA fails to decrease methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector in other states.
In filing the lawsuit, Becerra joins the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the city of Chicago.