WASHINGTON – The Natural Resources Defense Council will go to court to block the Trump administration from rolling back protections against dangerous air pollution from the oil and gas industry. On the heels of news reports that the President will announce the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is suspending standards to curb leaks of methane and other harmful air pollutants from new oil and gas wells and associated facilities.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a 90-day stay to halt federal leak detection and repair requirements scheduled to take full effect on June 3. He also said he would soon propose to extend the stay indefinitely.
A statement follows from David Doniger, Director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“On the heels of news reports that the U.S. will walk away from a global commitment to combat climate change, President Trump is sabotaging headway the U.S. has already made. The Trump administration is giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air. EPA is continuing to put thousands of people in communities near these facilities at increased risk for asthma attacks and cancer. We will fight Trump’s latest polluter giveaway in court.”
The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial emitter of methane, which is the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide.
Methane leaks also release smog-forming and cancer-causing chemicals, endangering the health of people in neighboring communities.
Leak detection and repair is crucial to identify and stop methane and other pollutants from pouring out of the hundreds of valves, pumps, tanks and other equipment at oil and gas wells, as well as in the pipeline network that brings the gas to market. Finding and fixing these leaks is technically simple, cost-effective, prevents wasted gas, and creates high-paying jobs.
NRDC and others released a report in 2014 that shows EPA can cut methane pollution in half, while dramatically reducing other harmful air pollution at the same time, by issuing federal standards for new and existing infrastructure nationwide.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.