Earthjustice is representing Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund in an intervention opposing a lawsuit filed by several natural gas and petroleum industry groups which challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reporting requirements for greenhouse gas emissions.
The eight industry groups, which include the American Gas Association, the Gas Processors Association and the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, filed challenges to the EPA’s rule in January 2011. The rule requires facilities, including onshore and offshore production wells and platforms and oil and gas transmission and storage operations, to begin tracking their greenhouse gas emissions on January 1, 2011, and to submit annual emissions data to EPA beginning in early 2012. EPA estimates that emissions from such oil and gas facilities amount to more than 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released each year. These facilities also are one of the nation’s largest sources of methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide.
“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the public has a right to know about the extensive methane pollution that is leaked, vented, and flared from the oil and gas industry,” said Dr. Ramon Alvarez, an atmospheric scientist with Environmental Defense Fund. “EPA’s action in requiring disclosure of this harmful pollutant will mean more rigorous information and smarter policies to address these emissions.”
“Once again, dirty polluters are trying to block the EPA from doing its job, which is to protect the American public from the very real danger of carbon emissions,” said Tim Ballo, senior associate attorney with Earthjustice. “Sound safeguards depend on comprehensive and accurate emissions data from all industrial sectors.”
“Gas claims to be a clean fuel source, but leaky production systems can spew methane, a powerful global warming gas, into the atmosphere,” said Deb Nardone, Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign director. “The industry wants us to look the other way. But we need to measure and control this pollution.”
According to recent EPA estimates, the petroleum and natural gas industry may be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions outside of power plants. On behalf of Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice also is intervening to defend a separate EPA rule that requires reporting from industries emitting fluorine-containing greenhouse gas emissions.
The two interventions: