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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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November 26 2019

RAOUL OPPOSES EPA PROPOSAL TO GUT STANDARDS LIMITING HARMFUL OZONE-CAUSING POLLUTION IN OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

Raoul, 16 AGs Argue Proposal Would Increase Pollution and Harm Public Health

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general, cities, a county and a state department in filing comments opposing an unlawful proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would gut the current standards that limit emissions of methane and other harmful pollutants from new, reconstructed and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry. The oil and gas sector is the United States’ largest source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to cause climate change.

“Research shows that these pollutants are harmful to the public health and contribute to climate change,” Raoul said. “The U.S. EPA should preserve current standards that decrease the amount of methane which will be released into the atmosphere.”

The proposed rule would increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants, methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Increased methane emissions will accelerate the impacts of climate change. VOC emissions contribute to the formation of ozone, which poses a significant threat to public health, particularly to children, older adults and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.

The weakened standards would undermine a commonsense rule that reduces harmful pollutants by, among other things, requiring measures to prevent natural gas leaks. The current standard, which was set in 2016, is estimated to prevent 300,000 tons of methane emissions in 2020 and 510,000 tons in 2025. In 2016, the EPA analyzed the costs and benefits of the current standard, including the revenues generated from recovered natural gas that would otherwise be released, and determined that the standard would result in a net benefit estimated at $35 million in 2020 and $170 million in 2025.

Raoul and the coalition argue in the letter that EPA’s proposed rule is unlawful because the EPA:

  • Disregards its previous conclusions about the substantial adverse impacts of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry, the largest domestic source of climate-warming methane.
  • Fails to justify its decision to abandon the regulation of methane.
  • Arbitrarily eliminates pollution controls from the transmission and storage segment of the oil and natural gas sector, directly contravening the EPA’s prior factual and legal findings.

Joining Raoul in filing the letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, as well as the city of Chicago, the city and county of Denver, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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