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EPA Methane Rollback Temporarily Paused by Federal Court (1)

Sept. 17, 2020, 3:55 PM; Updated: Sept. 17, 2020, 5:35 PM

The EPA’s rollback of methane emissions standards for the oil and gas industry is temporarily suspended while a federal court weighs a longer-term freeze.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday issued an administrative stay that blocks the rescission from taking effect while the court fields briefs from both sides on whether a long-term suspension is warranted.

  • The procedural move doesn’t address the merits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to scrap methane emissions standards for new oil and gas sites across the country. The regulation was published in the Federal Register this week and took effect immediately.
  • Several environmental groups and states have sued over the EPA’s move, saying it violates both the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Groups asked the court to block the rollback to prevent irreparable harm from emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Environmental Defense Fund attorney Peter Zalzal praised the court’s decision to pause the rollback while it reviews the request, saying the administrative stay “ensures our nation’s long-standing and life-saving climate and health safeguards addressing oil and gas pollution will remain in place” for now.
  • The D.C. Circuit ordered the EPA to respond by Sept. 28. The agency told Bloomberg Law it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The case is Envtl. Def. Fund v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 20-1359, 9/17/20.

(Adds comment from Zalzal, EPA in paragraphs 5-6.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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