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AG leads multi-state action to sue EPA

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of seven states, has notified the federal Environmental Protection Agency he intends to sue it for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry.

The EPA has determined that methane is a powerful climate change pollutant emitted by the industry in large quantities, according to a release. Because of this, and the availability of affordable methods for controlling the industry’s methane emissions, Schneiderman’s coalition charges that EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it largely ignored methane in recent updates to air pollution emission standards for the industry.

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, Schneiderman said. Pound for pound, it warms the climate about 25 times more than carbon dioxide. In 2009, EPA determined that methane and other greenhouse gases endanger the public’s health and welfare. He said the EPA’s decision not to directly address the emissions of methane from oil and natural gas operations — including hydrofracking — leaves almost 95 percent of the emissions uncontrolled.

“We simply can’t continue to ignore the evidence of climate change or the catastrophic threat that unabated greenhouse gas pollution poses to our families, our communities and our economy,” Schneiderman said. “Today, our coalition is putting EPA on notice that we are prepared to sue to force action on curbing climate change pollution from the oil and gas industry.”

A copy of the notice of intent to sue can be found at: www.ag.ny.gov.