North Dakota sues over new methane rule

North Dakota sues over new methane rule
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North Dakota’s attorney general has sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over new methane emission rules at oil and gas facilities. 

In a filing in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the state said it considers the new rule “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law."


The EPA’s rule, part of an Obama administration strategy to reduce methane emissions, sets new standards for methane leaks related to natural gas extraction, including drilling and pumping, at new or modified gas wells. The EPA published the rule in the Federal Register in June. 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. It’s also the main component of natural gas, and drillers have warned the EPA’s rule could hurt production of the fuel. Industry groups say they have cut down on methane emissions effectively on their own and have resisted the new rule.

North Dakota stands to be particularly affected by the EPA’s rules: The state has seen a natural gas boom, with its production growing from nearly 63 billion cubic feet of gas in 2006 to almost 582 billion cubic feet in 2015.

The EPA's rule, released in May, would eliminate about 520,000 tons of methane in 2025, or the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. 

The EPA has said it’s also formulating rules for existing oil and gas wells. Reducing methane emissions by oil and gas sector has been a major part of Obama's climate work with Canada and Mexico, as well.