EPA Wants to Extend a Methane Rule Pause From 90 Days to 2 Years

By Yessenia Funes Jun 14, 2017

The EPA announced yesterday (June 13) that it will hold off even longer on improving performance standards for the oil and gas industry which would help reduce methane emissions. 

The agency said May 31 that it would issue a 90-day stay of the 2016 New Source Performance Standards created under former President Barack Obama, to which environmentalist responded with a lawsuit. Now, however, the agency is proposing to extend that stay to two years while it works through the reconsideration process to create a new rule on which the public could comment.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that captures heat at almost 30 times the rate as carbon dioxide. The performance standards would help reduce those emissions by setting new regulations on pneumatic pumps at oil and gas drilling sites, which would help reduce the number of unnecessary methane leaks. These leaks not only emit methane; they also emit volatile organic compounds that contribute to smog and air pollution.

The agency says that it made the decision via its authority under the Clean Air Act, but environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have previously said that this decision is in violation of the Clean Air Act.

Under President Donald Trump, the agency in charge of protecting the environment has been removing a number of regulations to, critics argue, protect industry rather than enforcing regulation that would protect the health of communities near these industries—communities that are often Black, Latinx, Asian, Native and/or impoverished.