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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 18
  • August
  • 2016


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Additional Legal Challenges to EPA’s New Methane Emissions Regulations

Legal challenges to EPA’s recently finalized methane and VOC emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector (“Quad Oa”) continue to gain traction as additional states and affected industry groups file suit. On August 2, 2016, a coalition of 14 states and a collection of oil and gas industry groups each filed petitions asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the new standards. The American Petroleum Institute (“API”) and the Western Energy Alliance have also filed individual challenges to the rules. North Dakota and Texas filed similar petitions for review in July.

West Virginia has taken the lead in the most recent challenge filed by the states, arguing that the final rule is “in excess of the agency’s statutory authority” and otherwise “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.” API makes a similar claim, challenging EPA’s failure to adhere to specific limitations provided by the Clean Air Act on the way the agency can develop regulations.

EPA’s new rule comes in the midst of a multi-year downturn in oil prices, leaving some companies struggling even without the added prospect of coming into compliance with the more stringent methane emission standards. Oil and gas producers will face significant additional compliance costs under the new rules, a burden that will be particularly difficult for small, independent producers. Many in the industry have questioned EPA’s push to enact the new regulations despite the fact that methane emissions have fallen in recent years, even as oil and natural gas production has increased significantly. More information about the new Quad Oa regulation is available here

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Rachel D. Comeskey

Rachel D. Comeskey Associate