December 13, 2012
Connecticut Joins Multistate Effort Pushing For Federal Standards on Methane Emissions
Attorney General George Jepsen and state Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said Connecticut has joined six other states in notifying the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) they intend to sue, if necessary, to prompt agency action on methane gas emissions from new and existing sources of the greenhouse gas.
“EPA has determined that emissions of this potent greenhouse gas endanger public health and welfare, and that processes and equipment in the oil and gas sector emit vast quantities of methane,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “Yet the EPA failed to set standards and guidelines limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations,” he said.
“Reserves of domestic natural gas that are now available offer a very real and important opportunity to make cleaner and cheaper energy available to our residents and businesses,” said DEEP Commissioner Esty. “But, we must take advantage of this valuable resource in an environmentally responsible manner – and that means strong regulatory oversight of methane emissions by EPA.”
Pound for pound, methane warms the climate about 25 times more than carbon dioxide. EPA has found that the impacts of climate change caused by methane include “increased air and ocean temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, melting and thawing of global glaciers and ice, increasingly severe weather events, such as hurricanes of greater intensity and sea-level rise.”
Oil and gas systems are the largest source of methane emissions in the United States and the second-largest industrial source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions behind only electric power plants.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Tuesday, the attorneys general of the seven states said they intend to sue unless EPA corrects its failure under the Clean Air Act to set performance standards for new sources, and guidelines for existing sources, that curb emissions of methane from the oil and gas sector. EPA’s latest rule, published in August, failed to address the issue.
Connecticut joined with Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont on this effort.
Section 111 of the federal Clean Air Act requires the EPA to establish standards of performance governing the emission of air pollutants from new sources in the oil and gas sector and to review and, if appropriate, revise those standards at least every eight years. As part of this review, EPA had a mandatory duty to determine whether standards covering methane emissions are “appropriate” and if appropriate, to promulgate standards.
Assistant Attorneys General Scott Koschwitz and Matthew Levine, Environment, and Kimberly Massicotte, Environment department head are assisting the Attorney General on this matter with Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin.