Attorneys General Ask Congress to Reconsider Methane Rescission Rule

A group of 21 attorneys general asked Congress in a letter on Monday to erase an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule known as the “methane ‘Rescission Rule’” that “eliminates key limits on pollutants from oil and gas facilities,” according to a press release from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the effort. 

The letter was sent by attorneys general from various states and two cities. It explained that the rule replaced 2016 regulations requiring oil and natural gas facilities to control methane emissions, which reportedly contributes to smog. These facilities are, according to the attorneys general, the greatest industrial source for methane emissions. 

In the letter, they purported that the law is “legally flawed” and that it will cause harm to residents of the states and to the states’ natural resources. Additionally, they claimed that disapproval resolutions from Congress would help the EPA fulfill its responsibilities to create emissions guidelines for the states to address methane. 

“As communities across the nation increasingly bear the brunt of climate change through brutal storms, devastating flooding, and deadly heat, aggressive action must be taken,” said Attorney General James in the press release. “The former administration scorned the necessity of confronting climate change, as well as science and the law, when it eliminated limits on the super-potent greenhouse gas methane from its single largest industrial source: oil and gas facilities. Congress must reverse this reckless action and ensure the proper regulation of these dangerous emissions for the health and safety of all Americans.”

In the press release, James cited the EPA’s information that it was anticipated that the 2016 rule would have reduced emissions of methane by 510,000 tons by 2025 and would cause increased revenue to the plant operators who would recover natural gas.  

Elements of the rule, however, were repealed in 2020 when the Rescission Rule was adopted by the EPA. The letter asked Congress under the Congressional Review Act to pass a resolution that would disapprove the 2020 rule, explaining that once signed by President Biden the provisions in the 2016 rule would be reinstated. 

The individuals involved in the letter include: Attorneys General of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and the Chief Legal Officers of Chicago and Denver.