Thirteen states sue over EPA methane rule

Thirteen states sue over EPA methane rule
© Devin Henry

More than a dozen states have sued the Obama administration over a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to limit methane emissions at oil and natural gas sites. 

West Virginia, along with governments and agencies representing 12 other states, filed suit against the EPA on Tuesday, looking to block methane standards the agency released in May. 

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The rule, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in a statement, is unnecessary and would add new costs to oil and gas drillers’ operations. Morrissey also warned the rule will allow for follow-up regulations from future presidential administrations. 

“This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach jeopardizing West Virginia jobs and working families,” Morrisey said in a statement. “The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry’s success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low.”

The EPA rule is part of an Obama administration effort to reduce methane emissions by up to 45 percent by 2025. The regulation limits leaks or flaring at new or modified drilling wells around the country. 

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and also the main component of natural gas. Drillers oppose the rule, saying they are reducing emissions on their own because they have a financial incentive to capture as much methane as they can in order to put it on the market. 

States joining West Virginia’s lawsuit include Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality signed on as well. 

North Dakota filed its own lawsuit against the methane rule in July.