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Climate Change Blog

Court Vacates BLM’s Postponement of Obama Methane Rule

On October 4, 2017, in a consolidated decision for Sierra Club, et al. v. Zinke, et al., No. 17-cv-03885, and State of California, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-cv-03804, a Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated BLM’s postponement of its 2016 final rule entitled “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” (the “Waste Prevention Rule” or “Rule”). The Waste Prevention Rule imposes additional emission control requirements relating to venting, flaring, and leaking of natural gas from oil and gas production operations on public lands in an effort to reduce methane emissions. The Rule required operators to submit “waste minimization” plans by January 2017 and includes other compliance deadlines, beginning in January 2018. On October 5, 2017, BLM published a proposed rule that would extend the January 2018 compliance deadlines to January 2019. The comment period for this proposed rule is currently open through November 6, 2017.

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  • 07
  • August
  • 2017

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D.C. Circuit Strikes Down EPA Stay on Key Parts of Quad OA — the 2016 Methane NSPS Rule for the Oil and Gas Industry

On July 2, 2017, in Clean Air Council, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-1145, the D.C. Circuit vacated EPA’s 90-day stay of EPA’s 2016 final rule entitled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources,” which EPA codified as Subpart OOOOa to 40 CFR Part 60 or “Quad Oa.” Quad Oa overhauled new source performance standards (“NSPS”) for the oil and natural gas sector. A deeper analysis of Quad Oa can be found here. As noted below, Quad Oa is now in effect unless EPA successfully finalizes a proposed rule that would stay for two years parts of Quad Oa. Quad Oa carries certain monitoring and reporting deadlines that will need to be complied with, unless EPA successfully extends those deadlines.

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  • 28
  • June
  • 2017

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Environmental Groups Move to Revive NEPA Lawsuit Over Federal Coal Leasing Program

Environmental groups are seeking to revive a climate change lawsuit regarding the federal coal leasing program, which allows companies to lease federal lands to mine coal. The coal leasing program manages leases on approximately 570 million acres of federal land, and produces approximately 40% of domestically sourced coal. Over 30% of energy generated in the United States comes from coal.

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  • 13
  • December
  • 2016

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Two New Class Action Complaints Against Exxon Allege Climate Fraud

In November, two class action complaints were filed against Exxon Mobil — Ramirez v. Exxon in the Northern District of Texas and Fentress v. Exxon in the Southern District of Texas. Ramirez is a purported class action for purchasers of Exxon common stock, while Fentress alleges class action claims under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) on behalf of current and former Exxon employees who participated in an employee stock option plan during the class period. Both of these cases rest upon a very similar set of factual allegations, and are significant as the potential beginning of a new type of climate change litigation.

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  • 31
  • October
  • 2016

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Environmental Groups Perpetuate a "Climate Alarmism Enterprise," RICO Suit Claims

On September 12, 2016, Leonid Goldstein filed a civil lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas alleging a massive criminal scheme by numerous environmental non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) and unnamed individuals to perpetuate the “false claim” of “dangerous ‘global warming’” through a criminal scheme that the complaint describes as a “Climate Alarmism Enterprise.” In what is perhaps a first in the climate change legal battles, Goldstein alleges that in advocating for a solution to climate change, these environmental groups violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act, a federal statute aimed at combatting organized crime.

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Texas Challenges EPA’s Failure to Make New Endangerment Findings for the Quad Oa Methane Rules for the Oil and Gas Sector

As discussed in this previous post, a number of states and industry groups have challenged EPA’s new VOC and methane emission regulations for the oil and gas sector (“Quad Oa”). Texas has now further defined the claims it plans to bring against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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