Texas Sues EPA Over New Methane Emissions Rule

     (CN) — Texas joined North Dakota in a legal challenge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules mandating a reduction of methane emissions for oil and natural gas producers, calling it the latest example of “federal overreach.”
     The states are at the vanguard of the United States’ energy production renaissance, the result of new drilling technologies that let drillers tap oil and gas in dense shale and lifted the nation past Russia in 2015 to become the world’s leading oil and gas producer.
     The industry’s resurgence has made it a prime target for President Barack Obama as he tries to cement his legacy as a leader in the battle against climate change in his final days in office, and position the United States to meet pollution-reduction goals established by the United Nations’ Paris Agreement in December 2015.
     The EPA adopted the new rule “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources” on June 3.
     The agency estimates the regulations will reduce the energy industry’s methane emissions by 510,000 tons by 2025.
     “The methane-related monetized climate benefits are estimated to be $360 million in 2020 and $690 million in 2025,” the EPA states in the 119-page rule.
     North Dakota sued the EPA on July 15 in the D.C. Circuit. Texas followed suit on July 28 and the cases were consolidated the following day.
     “The EPA has failed to consider the steep cost of this rule on the existing industry,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, in which he also said he agrees with North Dakota’s assessment of the rule as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law.”
     The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group that lobbies Congress on behalf of the energy industry, said in March that the new methane rules are unnecessary because the United States already leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.     
     API also sued the EPA over the rule Tuesday in the D.C. Circuit. The case will likely be consolidated with the states’ challenge.
     “The Clean Air Act provides specific limitations on the way the EPA can develop regulations. In this instance, EPA did not adhere to the statutory requirements when it expanded the rule to include methane. Greater use of clean, affordable natural gas has pushed carbon emissions from power generation to their lowest level in more than 20 years and the industry is already leading the way on methane reductions,” API spokesman Reid Porter said in an email. The organization says the new rule could hinder the nation’s shale-drilling boom.
     “President Obama’s plans to add costly new regulations on methane when emissions are already falling could harm America’s shale energy revolution that has lowered energy costs for American consumers by $700 a year at the pump and $1,200 in home utility bills,” API vice president of regulatory and economic policy Kyle Isakower said in a statement in March.
     Texas generated more than $4 million from taxes on natural gas and oil production in 2015, according to state comptroller Glen Hegar.
     The lawsuit is business as usual for Texas, which has sued the federal government more than 40 times since Obama took office in 2009.

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