Attorney General Hector Balderas
ALBUQUERQUE ― Attorney General Balderas, joining a coalition of 22 attorneys general and the City of Chicago filed comments Friday opposing an unlawful proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would gut the current standards that limit emissions of methane and other harmful pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry.
This sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat.
“My office continues to fight for New Mexican school children’s right to lost natural gas royalties and has fought President Trump’s illegal attacks on effective methane regulation from the day he took office,” Balderas said. “The President continues to put industry interests above those of our school children and our environment, and I will keep fighting to ensure that our schools get what they are owed and that our pristine environment is protected.”
The proposed rule would increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants, methane, and volatile organic compounds (VOC), accelerating the impacts of climate change. VOC emissions contribute to the formation of ozone, which poses a significant threat to public health, particularly to children, older adults and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.
The weakened standards would undermine a commonsense rule that reduces harmful pollutants and recovers valuable natural gas that would otherwise be lost. The current standard, which was set in 2016, is estimated to prevent 300,000 tons of methane emissions in 2020 and 510,000 tons in 2025. In 2016, the EPA analyzed the costs and benefits of the current standard, including the revenues generated from recovered natural gas that would otherwise be vented, and determined that the standard would result in a net benefit estimated at $35 million in 2020 and $170 million in 2025.
The coalition argues in the letter that EPA’s proposed rule is unlawful because EPA:
- Disregards its own previous conclusions about the substantial adverse impacts of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry, the largest domestic source of climate-warming methane;
- Fails to justify its decision to abandon the regulation of methane; and
- Arbitrarily eliminates pollution controls from the transmission and storage segment of the oil and natural gas sector, in direct contravention of EPA’s prior factual and legal findings.
In filing today’s letter Attorney General Balderas joined a multistate coalition along with the attorneys general of: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, the City of Chicago, the City and County of Denver, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.