United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Vacates EPA’s Stay of Compliance Deadlines of Methane Rule

Energy and Environmental Trends Watch

On July 3, 2017, in a 2-1 opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit granted a petition by several environmental organizations that sought to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) decision to stay the methane rule. In vacating the EPA’s stay, the Court concluded that the EPA lacked authority under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) to stay the rule.

The saga began in June 2016, when former EPA Administrator McCarthy issued a final rule establishing “new source performance standards” for the oil and gas industry in connection with fugitive emissions of methane and other pollutants. The methane rule required regulated entities to conduct monitoring surveys and identify fugitive emission leaks by June 3, 2017, and repair any leaks within 30 days. The failure to comply with these requirements could have subjected oil and gas operators to civil penalties, fines, imprisonment, as well as citizen suits.

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