The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and argues the EPA violated the Clean Air Act with its new policies.
According to the environmental watchdog, actions directed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler weaken rules aimed at monitoring and repairing equipment as well as deregulate fracked gas storage and transmission equipment procedures. Further, a final rule issued by the agency has “stripped away limits on methane pollution for the entire industry,” the group alleges. Methane is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide with respect to its impact as an atmospheric greenhouse gas, according to the Sierra Club.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the agency to “fully reinstate and enforce” environmental standards issued under President Barack Obama’s administration in 2016. “With a rapidly warming planet and the most devastating global pandemic in 100 years, [President Donald Trump’s administration] has somehow seen fit to worsen both of these crises by attacking safeguards that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up the air we breathe,” said Sierra Club Staff Attorney Andres Restrepo, in a statement.
The group has also asked the court to require current enforcement standards for the gas and oil industry as the legal action proceeds.
"25 states and municipalities have filed a new lawsuit opposing @EPA's decision to gut federal controls on the oil/gas industry's #methane emissions and will file a separate lawsuit challenging EPA's technical amendments. @EENewsUpdates @niina_h_farah"
“We will not stand by as Trump’s EPA guts commonsense, low-cost protections against dangerous oil and gas pollution in order to pad the pockets of oil and gas executives. The courts have repeatedly rejected this administration’s attempts to give a free pass to corporate polluters, and we are confident that this will be no exception,” Restrepo said. “That’s why we’re taking Trump and Wheeler to court, and it’s why we expect to win. Our families and communities deserve no less.”
The lawsuit coincides with the EPA’s 50th anniversary commemoration in which the agency highlighted parts of the Clean Water Act of 1973, among other things. The agency has dedicated the week to “highlighting progress made on prevention and readiness planning for chemical and hazardous substance releases and oil spills.”
Oil Pollution Prevention regulations in the clean water act set forth requirements “for the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to oil discharges” at certain non-transportation facilities that meet its applicability requirements, a point of emphasis during the commemoration week.
“Spills and releases can occur unexpectedly and with little to no warning and so preparation for these unplanned events is vital,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “EPA works closely with other federal agencies, states, tribes and local governments to prepare for and have plans in place to respond rapidly and effectively to emergencies.”
For information on the EPA’s 50th Anniversary and its subsequent efforts to protect U.S. “waters, land and air,” visit: https://www.epa.gov/50