Colorado has joined with 19 other states and several state agencies and large cities in filing a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules that roll back methane emission standards.
The new rules reverse leak detection and monitoring requirements for the oil and gas industry that were put in place by the EPA under the Obama administration. The lawsuit said the old rule would prevent 510,000 tons of methane emissions by 2025, and save about $170 million in remediation costs.
The suit also claims that removing those requirements on methane and other volatile organic compounds from drilling activities, along with completely eliminating rules on methane storage and transmission, would result in about 850,000 tons of methane emissions by 2030.
“We are joining this lawsuit because the EPA’s final rule reversing the federal methane emissions standards will accelerate the impacts of climate change and threaten public health,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “Methane emissions don’t stop at state lines, and Coloradans will be exposed to harm from the emissions of surrounding states if we don’t have the stronger federal standards in place.”
Weiser said the old federal standards were largely based on policies adopted in Colorado.
The suit includes such states as California, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, New York, Michigan and Maine. Additionally, the cities of Denver and Chicago have joined the lawsuit, along with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the California Air Resources Board.
The lawsuit alleges that EPA’s new policy on methane emissions violates the federal Clean Air Act, saying they arbitrarily eliminate pollution controls from storage and transmission, and entirely abandon regulation of methane without any justification.
“The West is on fire, the South floods, the Midwest gets ripped apart by super tornadoes and the East prepares for calamitous hurricanes,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “At this critical juncture in history, we need leaders who step up and propose solutions. Instead, we get President Trump’s version of the EPA. We won’t let the EPA gut critical pollution emissions standards and allow super pollutants like methane to destroy our atmosphere.”
The president was in California on Monday touring the devastating fires that continue to burn across the West Coast.
According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a federal program created by Congress to coordinate federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, climate change has been a contributing, if not a major factor in the number and intensity of wildfires in recent years.