Dems, greens press Trump administration on methane rewrites

Dems, greens press Trump administration on methane rewrites
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Environmentalists and Democrats levied new criticisms Tuesday against the Trump administration’s approach to methane regulations.

A group of 15 state attorneys general joined a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency that alleges the EPA does not have the right to delay an Obama-era methane pollution rule while reviewing it. 

The EPA is seeking to delay its methane rule for up to two years while it reviews, and likely repeals, the regulation Obama officials finalized last year.  

The decision has kicked up a legal fight between the agency and environmentalists. In a court filing last week, the EPA said federal policies give it the right to halt implementation of a rule while reconsidering it, something the agency is seeking to do with a limit on methane leaks at oil and gas sites. 

Greens who support maintaining the methane rule dispute that. In a filing of their own on Tuesday, they argued that the agency “issued the stay without even bothering to consider the serious and irreversible harms that befall … the broader public every day that the stay continues.”

A coalition of Democratic attorneys general, led by Massachusetts’ Maura Healey, backed up that position on Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, two Democratic senators are urging the Interior Department to require companies comply with its own, separate methane rule while reviewing the measure. 

Interior last week said it would not require drillers on public land to comply with the Bureau of Land Management’s methane leak rule while reassessing the rule. 

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Sens. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellLobbying World Interior won't lower offshore drilling royalty rates Watchdog: Zinke could have avoided charter flight after meeting with Las Vegas hockey team MORE (D-Wash.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers Dem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses MORE (D-N.M.) questioned if that approach is legal, and at a hearing on Tuesday, Cantwell pressed Zinke on whether the agency would take public comments on any decision to undo the rule. 

Zinke replied: “absolutely.”

“We are revising the methane” rule, he said.  “We both agree that flaring is a waste. We’re looking at the rule in order to make sure we provide incentives to capture it."