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AG Derek Schmidt asks federal court to review new EPA regulation of oil and gas industry

Release Date: Aug 05, 2016

TOPEKA – (August 5, 2016) – Kansas has joined 12 other states in a lawsuit asking a federal appeals court to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule regulating emissions standards for new, reconstructed and modified oil and gas operations, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

In May, the EPA Administrator signed three final rules that together purport to limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), and certain other air pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified oil and gas operations. The attorney general has asked for judicial review of one of the three new rules, specifically the rule that relates to regulating emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, during oil and gas production.

“This is yet another example of the cascade of unnecessary and unauthorized regulations pouring out of federal agencies in these final months of the Obama Administration,” Schmidt said. “The EPA conveniently skipped past the endangerment finding as required by law before attempting to regulate methane from the oil and natural gas sector under the Clean Air Act. As a matter of law, it’s just not enough that somebody at EPA thinks it might be a good idea to implement a new regulation – the agency must follow the law Congress enacted, even in the final months of a presidential administration.”

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to list a category of stationary sources if, in EPA’s judgment, the category “causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” This requires EPA to first make an “endangerment finding” that the specific air pollution it intends to regulate from that source category “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”

In the petition filed August 2, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the petitioners argue this latest regulation imposes unnecessary and burdensome rules upon the oil and natural gas industry, while setting the stage for further limits on existing oil and gas operations before President Obama leaves office. The petition asks that the rule be vacated until such time as EPA can conduct the required endangerment finding process and cost analysis.

Oil and gas production are a significant component of the Kansas economy and support thousands of Kansas jobs. Many Kansas wells are low-volume and operate on low profit margins, and even nominal additional regulatory costs can make production unprofitable. Schmidt noted that oil and gas production represents only about 1 percent of the national greenhouse gas inventory and that existing industry practices already are causing methane emissions to decline.

In addition to Kansas, other petitioners in the lawsuit are attorneys general from West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin, along with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

The case is State of West Virginia, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., in the U. S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit, Case No. 16-1264. A copy of the complaint is available at .

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