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AG Nessel Joins Multistate Coalition to Defend Biden Administration’s Oil and Gas Methane Rule

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a multistate coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing a motion to intervene on behalf of the State of California and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to defend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil and Gas Methane Rule. The EPA’s Final Rule strengthens the regulation of methane emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed facilities in the oil and natural gas sector and, for the first time, regulates emissions from existing facilities in this sector. Currently, the rule is being challenged by 26 states – led by the states of Texas and Oklahoma – which aim to set back these critical methane emissions standards for the oil and natural gas industry.

“Emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change, must be reduced if we are to protect the environment and the public health,” said Nessel. “The Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Rule is vital in safeguarding our natural resources and combatting the harmful effects of methane emissions. I proudly stand with my colleagues in supporting this important regulation to ensure that our air remains clean and safe for all.”

“California has taken proactive steps to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas and other sources because the work we do now will provide near-term benefits to our air and climate,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “The public health impacts from pollution and the extreme environmental challenges we face with climate change require urgency and action, and we cannot take any steps backwards in our commitment for solutions.”

Methane is a super pollutant up to 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere. It is the major component of natural gas, a fossil fuel, and is emitted into the atmosphere during oil and gas production, processing, transmission, and storage. These processes make oil and natural gas the largest single industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S. For nearly a decade, California and its sister states have urged the EPA to regulate methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector as a central component in the fight against climate change.

The coalition expresses strong support for the EPA’s Final Rule which will:

  • Require all oil and gas well sites, centralized production facilities, and compressor stations to be routinely monitored for leaks. 
  • Phase out routine flaring of natural gas from new oil wells. 
  • Set emissions standards for certain pieces of equipment not previously covered by the 2016 Rule. 
  • Allow owners and operators flexibility to utilize a variety of monitoring techniques. 
  • Set guidelines for states to follow as they develop plans for establishing, implementing, and enforcing emission standards. 
  • Create a “super-emitter program” that leverages third-party expertise to find large leaks and releases.

Supporting the EPA’s Final Rule regarding methane emissions is AG Nessel’s most recent action to advocate for the environment and natural resources, both here in Michigan and nationwide. Nessel also supported the EPA’s 2023 proposal to strengthen regulation of emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed facilities in the oil and natural gas sector, and to, for the first time, regulate methane emissions from existing facilities. She has urged Congress to continue funding the Inflation Reduction Act, which will provide funding that allows states to respond to climate-related events and convert to cleaner energy sources. Nessel joined a coalition supporting the Biden Administration’s Ocean Justice Strategy, which seeks to alleviate the impacts of air pollution on ocean justice communities disproportionately affected by pollution from refineries, power plants, and diesel-powered ships and to ensure equitable responses to climate change so that coastal adaptation strategies do not inadvertently exacerbate burdens on ocean justice communities.

For the last 5 years, Nessel has challenged Enbridge Energy’s operation of the aging Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes, asserting that the pipeline is a ticking time bomb whose rupture could cause irreparable harm to Michigan’s environment and economy. Last June, a federal judge ordered Enbridge to shut down or reroute the Line 5 pipeline within 3 years.

Nessel’s work to protect Michigan’s natural resources has earned her an “A” rating from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group.

In filing the motion, AG Nessel is joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C.

A copy of the motion can be found here.

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