Court Blocks Trump’s Stay of Methane Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted Sierra Club and its allies’ motion to vacate EPA’s stay of a rule that limits methane pollution from new oil and gas operations, in an attempt to delay its implementation.

The Court agreed with Sierra Club, ruling that the agency did not have legal authority to issue such a stay.

A greenhouse gas, methane is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to disrupting our climate in the near term, poses a significant threat to public health, and fuels climate change.
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> “Once again the Court has sided with the rule of law over the Fossil Fool in the Whitehouse.

The Court has sided with Sierra Club and other groups over the President’s attempt to delay and overturn the EPA methane rule.

This a major victory for the environment and climate change because methane is 87 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. By keeping this rule intact, we will see regulations and real reductions from methane pollution from well heads to oil and gas pipelines to transmission lines,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. 

“This court case is the fourth victory against Trump’s rollbacks. This shows by standing up to Trump and fighting back we can win. Protests and demonstrations are important, but lawsuits are becoming more important. This is because we have to challenge everything the Trump Administration does to roll back protections for the environmental and public health. The reason Trump didn’t want to limit methane was because he is afraid his speeches might be capped.”
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> The rule was issued by the Obama administration in 2016, and the first compliance date was set to June 3, 2017. In response to requests from the oil and gas industry to reconsider the rule, in April EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced it would stay certain core requirements under the rule by 90 days pending its reconsideration.  In response, Sierra Club and its allies filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s EPA for rolling back EPA’s climate standards. In mid-June, EPA also proposed a separate two-year stay on the rule, and the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the importance of implementing the rule.
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> “In a big win against fracking and pipelines, the Court has stood up to Trump’s attempts to rollback environmental protections. We needed this rule it to make sure we can prevent dangerous methane leaks like the one in California. It also makes it costlier for the gas and oil industry to operate and propose pipelines in our state,” said Jeff Tittel. “It has been reported that some operations have a leakage rate as high as 9%.  Methane is leaked during drilling and transportation of natural gas and crude oil. In New Jersey, leakage often occurs from oil and gas pipelines, compressor stations, and pipelines in the street. These standards will also protect public health by curbing emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds and carcinogens like benzene. Natural gas pipelines are also prone to leaks and are entering through the Delaware River region, posing a serious threat to our drinking water.”
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> Not only does fracking for gas creates devastating health impacts to surrounding communities and the frack waste can end up in New Jersey. Natural gas power plants in New Jersey also contribute to methane pollution. Natural gas has 30 percent less carbon than coal when burned in the power plant, but has more methane released. The rule covers new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry, including well pads, pnuematic devices, compressors, and gathering lines. The rule will require regular leak detection and repair at all wells, a key means of reducing chronically leaky systems. Instead of pushing for destructive pipelines and fossil fuel plants, our natural gas plants need to be closed and changed to renewable to prevent all methane emissions.
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> “With a climate-change denier in the White House and all the proposals to push all types of dirty fuel infrastructure all over New Jersey, we need the methane rule now more than ever. There at least 15 pipelines that have either been approved or proposed crisscrossing our state, changing us from the crossroads of the Revolution to the crossroads of pipelines. Now that the oil and gas industry must comply with these standards we must move towards clean renewable energy that does not threaten people or the environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Now that we won this case, we will keep fighting against all of Trump’s attempts to rollback 45 years of progress we have made to protect the environment.”


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