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MA Asks Court To Stop EPA Stalling on Methane Waste Rules

Massachusetts is part of an effort to make the feds regulate methane waste, which is linked to climate change. The state is hoping to reduce the number of powerful storms that pound the coastline.  (Erin McDaniel/Wikimedia Commons)
Massachusetts is part of an effort to make the feds regulate methane waste, which is linked to climate change. The state is hoping to reduce the number of powerful storms that pound the coastline. (Erin McDaniel/Wikimedia Commons)
July 7, 2020

BOSTON -- Massachusetts and 15 other states and cities are asking a federal judge to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate methane emissions from existing oil and gas wells. The Trump administration has refused to take action and has focused instead on rolling back safeguards on new wells.

Rosalie Winn, senior attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, which is also part of the lawsuit, said the feds are allowing air pollution in low-income communities near the wells.

"What's at issue here is really EPA doing a favor for the worst actors in the industry, those who are unwilling to take even these common-sense measures to clean up oil and gas production," Winn said.

Some oil companies do support regulations, arguing that the lack of a nationwide standard enables polluters and penalizes companies that install methane-capture technology. The court motion is part of a case filed in 2018 to get the EPA to regulate methane, as required by the Clean Air Act.

Winn noted Environmental Defense Fund studies link methane - which is a potent greenhouse gas - to one-quarter of global warming.

"Each year that existing source standards are delayed, these sources emit more than 3 million metric tons of methane pollution that could otherwise be mitigated if EPA were to adopt standards for these sources," she said.

Winn said Massachusetts is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, stronger storms and sea-level rise.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MA