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AG Balderas Opposes EPA’s Illegal Proposed Delay Of Rule Limiting Methane Emissions

on August 11, 2017 - 6:57am
AG News:
 
ALBUQUERQUE  Joining a coalition of 14 attorneys general, the State of Colorado, and the City of Chicago, Attorney General Hector Balderas Aug. 9 submitted comments in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 27-month compliance delay of an important public health rule put forward during the Obama Administration.
 
The methane new source rule now in place limits emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas by encouraging the use of emerging technology in leak monitoring and setting a fixed schedule for monitoring leaks at all well sites and compressor stations. The rule is expected to prevent 300,000 tons of methane emissions in 2020 and 510,000 tons of methane emissions in 2025.
 
The controls required by the rule are also expected to reduce emissions of other pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. The EPA analyzed the costs and benefits of the rule, including the revenues from recovered natural gas that would otherwise be vented, and determined that the rule would result in a net benefit estimated at $35 million in 2020 and $170 million in 2025.
 
“I will continue to fight President Trump’s illegal actions that wreak havoc on our natural environment and air quality while decreasing revenue for our schools,” Balderas said. “New Mexico's youth deserve a livable world and full recovery of the resources they are owed, and we cannot put the health and safety of New Mexico children, families and businesses at risk.”
 
In the comments, the attorneys general point out that the EPA’s delay of the rule is blatantly unlawful for three main reasons: it exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act, it is arbitrary and capricious, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the delay is improper because it would achieve the result he sought in his lawsuit challenging the rule when he was the Oklahoma Attorney General.
 
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, warming the climate about 34 times more potently than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The oil and natural gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions and accounts for a one-third of total methane emissions in the United States.
 
The methane new source rule became effective on Aug. 2, 2016. Shortly after it became effective, the rule was challenged in court by several industry groups. Several states, including New Mexico, intervened in the case to defend the rule. On June 5, 2017, President Donald Trump’s EPA issued its first three-month delay of the methane new source rule without giving notice or taking comments, arguing that the industry’s challenges raised new issues that were not addressed during the rulemaking process. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals promptly found that the delay was unlawful and terminated it. On June 16, 2017, the EPA published for notice and comment two additional proposed delays, totaling 27 months.
 
Joining New Mexico in submitting the comments are the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The State of Colorado and the City of Chicago also joined in submitting the comments. 

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