7 States Sue EPA Over Methane from Oil and Gas Drilling
Seven states in the northeastern part of the United States have officially announced plans to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its alleged violations of the Clean Air Act in failing to address and limit methane emissions resulting from drilling for natural resources like oil and gas.
In a press release issued earlier this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman outlined the complaint, which focuses on methane emissions from resource-heavy states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. Joined by Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, the state of New York is leading the cause, demanding that the EPA take immediate action to reduce methane emissions that threaten to increase the already troubling effects of anthropogenic climate change. (Read More: U.S. Oil Production Surges to Highest Level in 15 Years)
For its part, the EPA has already announced new rules to be implemented in 2015 that would require firms drilling for gas and oil to install new equipment and enforce new rules that would limit the amount of methane added to the atmosphere. Regarding this complaint, the EPA has promised a response; with a 60-day notice of the seven-state coalition’s intention to sue currently on the books, the agency will have to do so quickly in order to avoid a potentially messy lawsuit.
While the complaint in question references only those methane emission that result from the oil and gas industry, the largest source of that greenhouse gas in the United States in accounting for 37 percent of all emissions, the trend towards focusing on methane could lead to the EPA forcing new rules on the raising of livestock, which accounts for 21 percent, and landfills, which account for 16 percent. (Read more: Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions — Facts and Figures)
Overall, methane is responsible for just 3.8 percent of total greenhouse gas emission in the U.S., with carbon dioxide ranking as the greatest threat.