Seven Northeastern States Threaten To Sue U.S. EPA For Failure To Evaluate Appropriateness Of Controlling Methane Emissions From Oil And Natural Gas Sector
By MICHAEL S. BALSTER, BEN B. CARRIER, & KEVIN POLONCARZ
On December 11, 2012, seven statesNew York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusettsnotified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of their intent to sue the agency for its failure to adopt New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector. These states contend that EPA is required under the federal Clean Air Act to determine whether it is appropriate to adopt performance standards for such sources of methane emissions and, if so, EPA must (i) adopt revised standards for new oil and gas sector sources, and (ii) issue guidelines for the control of methane emissions from existing sources. The states 60-day notice comes less than two months after industry and environmental organizations filed multiple lawsuits seeking judicial review of EPAs recently finalized NSPS and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the oil and gas sector. Given this newly threatened litigation and the petitions for judicial review filed by numerous other parties, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the future of these broad and complex federal air quality requirements for the oil and gas industry.