For Immediate Release - January 14, 2015

AG Coakley Applauds EPA’s Plan to Cut Methane Emissions From Oil and Gas Operations

BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing its plans to adopt new regulations and cut methane emissions from the nation’s oil and gas industry by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

“We are very encouraged by EPA’s announcement today, which recognizes the importance of immediate action to reduce methane emissions. Massachusetts has been a leader in seeking regulations to address the growing problem of climate change, and these important regulations represent a significant step toward accomplishing that goal.”

BACKGROUND:

In December 2012, Massachusetts, New York, and five other states notified EPA of their intent to file suit, asserting that EPA had not complied with its mandatory duty under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Performance Standards to determine whether it is appropriate to regulate methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. The AG’s Office has continued to press EPA to regulate directly methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, under its existing Clean Air Act authority.

In March 2014, the White House issued its Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, known as the “Methane Strategy,” a detailed plan to address methane emissions, a significant source of global warming pollution, including from oil and gas production. Among other measures, the plan required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize an analysis of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, evaluate policy mechanisms to cost effectively reduce emissions, and make a determination on whether regulation under the Clean Air Act is warranted. 

Today's announcement from the Obama administration supports AG Coakley's continued effort to protect the Commonwealth and our environment from climate change, a real and increasing threat to our health, safety, and economy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year time frame.  In December, 2009, EPA determined that methane, along with five other greenhouse gases, endangers public health and welfare because of its contribution to climate change.  According to EPA, methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States, accounting for about 30 percent of total U.S. methane emissions.

For years, Massachusetts has played a leading role in the fight to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including leading a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in the landmark case of Massachusetts v. EPA.  In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts and concluded that EPA had authority under existing law to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. 

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has since upheld EPA’s subsequent regulations, in response to Massachusetts v. EPA

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