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Local environmental organizations are suing Trump over cutting methane standards for oil & gas
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Local environmental organizations are suing Trump over cutting methane standards for oil & gas

Clean Air Council’s Russell Zerbo explains the move, why it’s problematic, and how you can help.

Earthjustice, Clean Air Council and other organizations (along with 20 U.S. states) are suing the federal government over the finalization of the removal of methane from the 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for oil and gas facilities. Luckily, multiple lawsuits have led a federal court to pause the Trump administration’s wreckless rollback of greenhouse gas policy.

Bizarrely, the Trump administration attempted to finalize this dangerous rollback as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded that Summer 2020 was the hottest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.

In a similarly tone-deaf gesture, as the nation waited for justice in the murder of Breonna Taylor, the White House ordered the cancellation of anti-racism trainings at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Clean Air Council and Earthjustice were extremely grateful that Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA5) could join our press conference. When the methane rule rollback was finalized in August, Rep. Scanlon signed on to Rep. Diana Degette’s letter opposing the rule’s unnecessary rewrite. Rep. Scanlon’s district, from Southwest Philadelphia to Marcus Hook, PA, has immense environmental challenges and is uniquely exposed to the impacts of climate change, particularly sea level rise.

View the full video of the press conference.

You can ask your federal elected officials to support Clean Air Council and Earthjustice’s lawsuit opposing the Trump Administration’s rewrite of the 2016 NSPS.

Real science and direct reporting show methane leaks are being underreported by up to 60%, and industry production is expected to significantly increase in the next 5 years. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection just announced that 2019 broke previous records for the amount of gas drilled for in PA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits on its own website that this rollback would raise methane emissions by 370,000 tons before 2025.

Thankfully Earthjustice has allowed groups like Clean Air Council to join their lawsuit over this senseless deregulation, and that lawsuit has already paused the enforcement of the rewritten rule.

Caitlin Miller, Associate Attorney, Earthjustice:

“The oil and gas industry is the largest industrial emitter of methane pollution in the country. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for at least a quarter of all global warming we’ve experienced to date. Reducing the amount of methane pollution in our air isn’t just a matter of national importance, but one of global importance as well if we want to curb the impact of climate change before it’s too late.

 Even beyond climate impacts, EPA’s rollbacks of methane emissions standards will also result in more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants in our air, including known carcinogens like benzene. The impact will be even greater on the millions of people – often low income and people of color – who live just a few miles from these facilities.

 Right now, especially in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, taking an action that will only increase air pollution – which has been proven to result in higher rates of COVID-19 deaths for people living in highly polluted areas – is staggeringly irresponsible.

 EPA is abandoning its statutory mandate to protect public health and welfare, and reduce pollution with these rollbacks.”

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Russell Zerbo
Russell Zerbo is the federal advocacy coordinator at the Clean Air Council. He likes to participate in comment periods and write letters to the editor. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2011 with a degree in government. View all posts by Russell Zerbo

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