In a victory for climate activists, a federal appeals court ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot delay an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells.
The decision comes just a few days after Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that his state was joining conservation groups in a lawsuit to sue the government to ensure the rules weren’t undone. The governor’s office released a statement, saying:
“Colorado is participating in this lawsuit to help assure comprehensive federal regulation of methane emissions, as authorized by the EPA in 2016. Colorado has a vested interest in the federal government regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry across all 50 states.”
The appeals court responsible for the ruling declared the EPA’s decision to delay the regulations “unreasonable”, “arbitrary” and “capricious.” They also stated that, under the Clean Air Act, the EPA cannot simply block the rule.
Environmentalists hope a similar ruling will be dealt in fighting the EPA’s decision to suspend a rule aimed at cutting methane emissions from landfills, which the agency also delayed.
Of course, Reid Porter, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, responded to the ruling, stating that methane emissions were already being restricted with other, less strict, rules in place: “A stay is needed to allow for regulatory certainty as EPA continues the formal process to review the rule making,” he said in a statement.
This is a huge victory for environmentalists, who have been working tirelessly against Scott Pruitt and the EPA to ensure Obama-era environmental regulations aren’t undone. The 2-to-1 decision is also a good sign that the Trump administration cannot simply reverse or delay environmental progress.