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15 Attorneys General, Chicago Sue EPA Over Not Controlling Methane Emissions

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt arrives to testify before the Senate Environment Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Fifteen attorneys general and the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Thursday charging that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has violated the federal Clean Air Act by stalling implementation and enforcement of the mandate to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The lawsuit comes as Pruitt is under fire for renting a $50-per-night D.C. condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist and reportedly cutting a member of his security detail for refusing to use lights and sirens to cut through D.C. traffic to get to a French restaurant on time. A top Pruitt aide, Office of Policy senior counsel and associate administrator Samantha Dravis, also just resigned, with a friend telling The Hill that the agency was a “shit show.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the methane lawsuit, said in a statement that the EPA “has a clear legal duty to control methane pollution from oil and gas operations, one its largest sources,” and “its continued refusal to do so is not only illegal, but threatens our public health and environment, and squanders savings of over $100 million annually.”

“Our coalition has made clear: when the Trump administration thumbs their nose at the law and endangers New Yorkers, we’ll see them in court,” he added.

Joining the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Schneiderman went after the EPA in the Obama administration, too, warning the agency in 2012 that it was obliged under the Clean Air Act to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

In November 2016, EPA issued an “Information Collection Request” to oil and gas firms regarding their emission sources and control practices, as a step toward enforcing standards. Pruitt withdrew that request in March 2017. Schneiderman threatened in June to sue the EPA if the agency didn’t issue methane standards for the oil and gas industry within 180 days.

By causing an “unreasonable delay,” the states argue, Pruitt is breaking the law.