Court prevents EPA from suspending Obama's methane regulations

Oil and gas companies argue that the regulation is an unnecessary burden because many states have their own rules.
By Ian Marsh | Jul 05, 2017
The Trump administration lost another court battle Monday when an appeals court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot suspend a rule enacted during Obama's presidency that regulated methane emissions from new gas and oil wells.

The disputed rule requires oil and gas companies to report and fix methane leaks in their equipment. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to a report by The New York Times.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided 2-1 that the EPA did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to delay the regulation for 90 days. The court also said the agency's action was "arbitrary," "capricious," and "unreasonable." To undo the regulation, the judges said the EPA would have to write a new rule pursuant to the rule-making process.

Oil and gas companies argue that the regulation is an unnecessary burden because many states have their own rules.

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, is trying to suspend or eliminate numerous Obama-era environmental rules. But Monday's decision suggests that these efforts may by thwarted by the courts.

"The court's decision ends the continued pollution by the oil and gas industry that's been illegally allowed by Pruitt," said one of the plaintiffs in the case, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The EPA is reviewing its legal options, according to an agency spokeswoman.

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