Court rules EPA must enforce Obama-era methane rule

The Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations has hit a roadblock.

 

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A federal court just dealt a blow to the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to roll back environmental regulations. On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must enforce an Obama-era rule which sets pollution limits for the oil and gas industry and requires companies to identify and fix methane leaks.

Methane is an extremely potent gas that contributes to global warming. While the gas can come from natural sources, the oil and gas industry contribute the greatest amount of industrial emissions. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide for the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. The Obama administration implemented the rule in 2016 and said it would slash methane emissions 40 to 45 percent by 2025.

Two flares burn oil field waste gas in Arvin, California.

In April, EPA head Scott Pruitt announced that the agency would “reconsider” the methane rule. In a letter to the oil and gas industry, Pruitt said that the “EPA is continuing to follow through with President Donald Trump’s energy independence executive order” and that “American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized.”

In June, Pruitt issued a notice that would set a two-year pause on the rule which would give companies time to review the rule and accept public comment. Several environmental groups including the EDF, the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit the same day asking a federal appeals court to reserve the decision. The groups alleged that the EPA did not follow the procedures laid out in the Clean Air Act when it announced the freeze on the rule. Earlier in July, the D.C. Circuit blocked Pruitt’s attempt to halt the regulation saying the agency “lacked authority.” Monday’s decision went a step further, mandating that the EPA actually carry out the rule.

Environmentalists are considering the latest court ruling a victory. Peter Zalzal, EDF’s lead attorney said it “protects families and communities across America under clean air safeguards that EPA Administrator sought to unlawfully tear down.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • YELLOWSTONE TREASURES: THE TRAVELER'S COMPANION TO THE NATIONAL PARK
    Dreaming of a trip to Yellowstone Park? This book makes you the tour guide for your group! Janet Chapple shares plenty of history anecdotes and...
  • OLIVERBRANCH CONSULTING
    Non-Profit Management Professional specializing in Transitional Leadership, Strategic Collaborations, Communications and Grant Management/Writing.
  • SAGE GROUSE CCAA COORDINATOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, headquartered in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a full-time Sage Grouse CCAA Coordinator. This position is part of a collaborative effort...
  • MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Marketing Communications Manager to join our...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - OKANOGAN LAND TRUST
    Executive Director, Okanogan Land Trust Position Announcement Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, family farms, challenging politics, and big conservation opportunities? Do you have...
  • GREAT VIEWS, SMALL FOOTPRINT
    Close to town but with a secluded feel, this eco-friendly home includes solar panels, a graywater reuse system, tankless hot water, solar tubes, and rainwater...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER- NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL
    Organize with Northern Plains Resource Council to protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Starts $35.5k. Apply now- northernplains.org/careers
  • BEAUTIFUL, AUTHENTIC LIVE YULE LOG CENTERPIECE
    - beautiful 12" yule log made from holly wood, live fragrant firs, rich green and white holly, pinecones and red berries. $78 includes shipping. Our...
  • CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS FOR THE INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA
    Crazy Horse Memorial, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is currently accepting applications and nominations for the Director of Programs for The Indian University...
  • CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL® MANAGER OF RESIDENCE LIFE FOR THE INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®
    Crazy Horse Memorial is currently accepting applications for the Manager of Residence Life for The Indian University of North America. This position is responsible for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Are you an art lover who dreams of living in the mountains? Is fundraising second nature to you? Do you have experience managing creative people?...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Public Lands Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the multiple-use management of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, seeks an experienced leader...
  • COLD WEATHER CRAFTS
    Unique handmade gifts from the Gunnison Valley. Soy lotion candles, jewelry, art, custom photo mandalas and more. Check out the website and buy Christmas locally...
  • EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks an Editor-In-Chief to join our senior team...
  • LENDER OWNED FIX & FLIP
    2 houses on 37+ acres. Gated subdivision, Penrose Colorado. $400k. Possible lender financing. Bob Kunkler Brokers Welcome.
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • POLLINATOR OASIS
    Seeking an experienced, hardworking partner to help restore a desert watershed/wetland while also creating a pollinator oasis at the mouth of an upland canyon. Compensation:...
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.