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Greens ask court to reinstate EPA methane pollution rule

Greens ask court to reinstate EPA methane pollution rule
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Environmentalists are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate immediately the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane pollution rule for oil and natural gas drillers.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled earlier this month that the Trump administration broke the law when it tried to delay the methane rule’s enforcement in June.

But the court let the EPA continue its delay for two weeks. That period ended Friday, and the Trump administration, which is trying to repeal the rule, did not ask for an appeal of the original ruling.

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“Every day that the stay remains in place, petitioners’ members and similarly situated Americans are exposed to excessive amounts of air pollution from more than 11,000 oil and gas wells — pollution that compliance with the rule would reduce or avoid,” a coalition of green groups, led by the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote in a Monday filing with the court.

Industry groups and a coalition of conservative states asked the full 11-judge court to rehear the case, which is the standard next level for appeal. But the EPA itself did not ask for such a rehearing.

The green groups said in their filing that the industry and state appeals for full-court review are “transparent attempts to seek further delay, and do not warrant any further withholding of the mandate.”

If the court were to grant the green groups’ motion, the regulation would take effect and the EPA would have to start enforcing it.

Meanwhile, the EPA is going through the full regulatory process for a proposed two-year delay of the methane rule. The public comment period for that closes next month, at which point the EPA could make it effective.

During that delay, the agency is likely to initiate a regulatory process to completely repeal the rule.