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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General TJ Donovan Joins Filing to Intervene in Suit to Secure Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

June 21, 2017

CONTACT: Nick Persampieri , Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3186

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of Chicago to intervene in a lawsuit that supports regulations to prevent greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit, which is before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is seeking to halt the implementation of regulations that stop leaks of greenhouse gas and other harmful air pollutants from new oil and gas sources.

The motion to intervene in the case — Clean Air Council v. Pruitt — supports environmental organizations seeking to immediately stop the EPA’s administrative stay of a rule finalized in 2016 (the 2016 Rule). This Rule would prevent emissions of thousands of tons of the potent greenhouse gas methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants, including benzene and formaldehyde from facilities constructed after September 2015.

“Vermonters deserve clean air,” said Attorney General Donovan. “We’re going to do our part to protect the environment by joining and helping in these clean air fights.” The 2016 Rule requires oil and gas companies to monitor sources of emissions at well sites and compressor stations constructed after September 2015 in order to detect air pollutant leaks and repair them at regular intervals. According to testimony filed by scientific experts in the case, during the 90-day term of the administrative stay alone, more than 5,300 tons of methane, 1,475 tons of VOCs, and 56 tons of hazardous air pollutants will be emitted that would otherwise have been prevented had the EPA not put the brakes on the 2016 Rule. EPA has signaled that it will seek to further stay the 2016 Rule for an additional 27 months. If those further stays are implemented, the experts predict at least 48,000 additional tons of methane, 13,000 tons of VOCs, and over 500 tons of hazardous air pollutants will be emitted that would have been prevented by the Rule.

Methane is a particularly powerful agent of climate change. Pound-for-pound, methane warms the climate about thirty-four times more than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On a 20-year timeframe, methane has about eighty-six times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, the oil and gas sector is the largest emitter of methane in the U.S., accounting for a third of total U.S. methane emissions.

Along with Vermont, the motion to intervene includes the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington along with the City of Chicago.

Last modified: January 11, 2018