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Texas Joins North Dakota Lawsuit Against EPA Over Methane Rules

Texas has joined North Dakota in its lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over three new final rules governing methane emissions from oil and gas industry sources.

On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition for review in U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. According to court records, the complaint by Texas was immediately consolidated with North Dakota's lawsuit, which it filed less than two weeks ago (see Daily GPIJuly 20).

"Not only is this a gross demonstration of federal overreach, but the EPA has failed to consider the steep cost of this rule on the existing industry," Paxton's office said.

EPA unveiled the three rules in May (see Shale Daily, May 12). The rules, collectively updates to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), are designed to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and toxic air pollutants. The agency said its actions would help the Obama administration meet its goal of slashing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% from 2012 levels by the year 2025.

According to EPA, the NSPS will build upon VOC emission reduction requirements for new oil and gas wells that the agency first unveiled in April 2012 (see Daily GPI, April 19, 2012). Those requirements called for a two-phase process to reduce VOCs: requiring flaring followed by "green completions," a term that means deploying equipment to capture and sell natural gas emissions that are otherwise lost.

EPA said it expects the NSPS will reduce 510,000 short tons of methane in 2025, which is the equivalent of reducing 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The rules are also expected to reduce other pollutants, including 210,000 tons of VOCs and 3,900 tons of air toxics, in the year 2025.

North Dakota's case is State of North Dakota v. EPA (No. 16-1242). The Texas case, which was consolidated with North Dakota's, is State of Texas et al v. EPA and Regina McCarthy [No. 16-1257].

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