Health, Environmental, Community Groups Move to Defend EPA Oil and Gas Methane Standards in Court

EPA’s oil and gas methane standards are firmly rooted in science and the law


Alexandria Trimble,

Eleven of the nation’s leading health, environmental, and community groups have filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s protective limits on methane pollution from new and existing oil and gas sources against court challenges.

EPA’s standards will reduce millions of tons of climate-damaging methane and other toxic, smog-forming pollution from oil and gas leaks, venting and flaring — an action that will give people cleaner, healthier air to breathe and help protect them from the severe damages of climate change. On Friday, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit to block it.

Last night, the Clean Air Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Dakota Resource Council, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Food & Water Watch, Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights (Ft. Berthold POWER), GreenLatinos, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and Sierra Club filed a motion to intervene in the case in support of EPA’s standards.

“The anticipated emissions reductions stemming from these requirements will substantially decrease climate and public health harms, including respiratory illness and death,” the groups say in their motion. “Specifically, EPA estimates that in one year alone the Rule will prevent 97,000 cases of asthma symptoms and 35,000 lost school days per year. Cumulatively, the Rule will prevent hundreds of premature deaths … EPA also estimates that the Methane Rule will result in $110 billion in climate benefits” between 2024 and 2038.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S.

The oil and gas sector is also responsible for large amounts of other pollutants, including benzene, which causes cancer, and toluene, which causes dysfunctions of the central nervous system. This pollution disproportionately burdens historically marginalized people, such as Tribal communities, whose members are more likely to live near oil and gas facilities.

EPA’s oil and gas methane standards are firmly rooted in science and the law — specifically the agency’s core authority, reinforced in recent years by Congress, to address methane pollution under the Clean Air Act.

As the sun sets on another California day, a flare burns in an oil field near Bakersfield, CA.
A flare burns in a California oil field. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

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