A coalition of environmental and tribal groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its rollback of two rules meant to limit the amount of methane emitted by the oil and gas sector.
The lawsuits, announced late Tuesday, target two rules promulgated by the agency last month. Under one rule, the agency rescinded standards that specifically regulate the emissions of methane, and the other rolled back industry requirements for detecting and repairing methane leaks.
Together, the two changes were expected to cause an increase of 850,000 tons of methane emissions over 10 years. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is significantly more powerful than carbon dioxide.
The groups will argue that the EPA’s actions violate the Clean Air Act and that it must reinstate methane emissions standards issued by the Obama administration, according to a statement from the Sierra Club.
“With a rapidly warming planet and the most devastating global pandemic in 100 years, the Trump administration has somehow seen fit to worsen both of these crises by attacking safeguards that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up the air we breathe,” said Sierra Club attorney Andres Restrepo in a statement.
“We will not stand by as Trump’s EPA guts commonsense, low-cost protections against dangerous oil and gas pollution in order to pad the pockets of oil and gas executives,” Restrepo added.
An EPA spokesperson declined to comment, saying the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The legal action follows a similar lawsuit by a coalition of 20 states and four municipalities, led by California, which sued over the emissions rollback. A California-led coalition also plans to sue over the leak detection rollback.