Environmental, National

Sierra Club Sues to Protect Key Safeguards to Limit Methane Pollution

Donald Trump screenshot
Donald Trump announcing US withdrawal from Pars Climate Accord. Screenshot

Methane Filing Marks First Lawsuit Brought Against Trump Administration for Attempting to Suspend Climate Pollution Standards

Washington, DC –(ENEWSPF)–June 5, 2017.  Today, less than a week after Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate agreement, the Sierra Club and its allies filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from suspending standards that curb harmful air pollution from the oil and gas industry. This is the first lawsuit filed against Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt’s EPA for attempting to suspend climate pollution reduction requirements. During Trump and Pruitt’s attempts to spin the administration’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement, the two consistently pointed to emission reductions made in recent years. The methane standards established under President Obama would continue this trend.

These protections limit methane emissions and other dangerous pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities. They are the first-ever national standards for methane pollution, a greenhouse gas that is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the time it remains in the atmosphere. These safeguards were finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration.

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“Following fast on the heels of their historically irresponsible decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt are reaffirming their view that polluters come first, second, and third, and the American people come last,” said Sierra Club Chief Climate Counsel Joanne Spalding. “These emission standards for new oil and gas sources are a critical step toward protecting communities from dangerous air pollution and addressing climate change. They received overwhelming support from Americans across the country as they were written, reviewed, and finalized. Trump and Pruitt’s attempt to delay these crucial protections has no basis in law, and their effort to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry will fail. We look forward to defending the oil and gas standards in court against this reckless and unfounded attack.”

The program’s major driver of emission reductions are its requirements that oil and gas site operators find and repair equipment leaks. However, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt responded to requests from the oil and gas industry, moving to delay these safeguards (along with several other requirements).

The Clean Air Act doesn’t permit EPA to suspend or delay finalized emission standards in these circumstances; by law, the methane safeguards must be implemented immediately. Today, the Sierra Club and a coalition of environmental groups sued the agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to demand the rule be enforced.

EPA’s program is crucial for reducing pollution in communities affected by oil and gas development. These communities include thousands of Sierra Club members like Lois Bower-Bjornson, a mother of four and small business owner from Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania. Bower-Bjornson lives within a mile and a half of 15 active new fracking rigs, including four within just 2,000 feet of her rural home. “My family and I moved here to give our children more space to play outdoors and engage with nature,” she said. “All these leaky fracking rigs weren’t here when we first arrived. Now, they cause health problems for our children like full-body rashes and nosebleeds, and add dangerous levels of smog to our air. We can’t wait any longer. We really need EPA to step up and force oil and gas developers to fix these leaks.”

“I’ve lived here for over 40 years, and the leaks from oil and gas wells and equipment keep getting worse,” said Sug McNall of Aztec, New Mexico, another Sierra Club member affected by oil and gas leaks. “People are having more asthma attacks, temperatures are increasing, our rivers are drying up, and toxins are leaking into our air. The leaks must be stopped now.”

Source: http://sierraclub.org

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