Los Angeles, California - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, 8 other states and the city of Chicago today filed a motion to intervene in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Source Performance Standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions, specifically methane, from oil and natural gas operations. The new EPA standards mark the first time the EPA has directly limited greenhouse gases from the oil and natural gas sector and tightens existing limits on emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and natural gas operations.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the emissions standards, Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, oil and gas industry associations, and others have filed lawsuits challenging the rules. California and 8 other states are intervening to defend the greenhouse gas emissions standards.
“Climate change is a real and direct threat to the health and well being of our communities. We must do everything in our power to limit greenhouse gas emissions and preserve our planet for future generations,” said Attorney General Harris. “These new federal standards are based on scientific evidence, and will curb the emission of harmful greenhouse gas pollutants into our environment and help mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.”
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Attorney General are jointly filing the motion to intervene on behalf of the state of California and are joined by Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Chicago.
The EPA expects that the new standards will prevent the emission of 300,000 tons of methane by 2020 and 510,000 tons by 2025. The standards also serve to fulfill the commitments President Obama laid out with his June 2013 Climate Action Plan and the Paris Accord, as well as specific goals around reducing methane emissions that the White House announced in January 2015.
In November 2015, Attorney General Harris and 17 other state Attorneys General filed a motion to intervene in support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s first-ever national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Harris, the California Air Resources Board, and the EPA successfully reached a $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen over emissions “defeat devices” it had installed in its 2.0 liter diesel cars to manipulate emissions testing software to make its cars appear to be emitting significantly fewer pollutants than they were in actual driving conditions. As part of the $14.7 billion settlement, which is subject to approval by the court, VW must pay $2.7 billion into a trust fund for environmental mitigation projects and spend $2 billion over 10 years on zero-emission technology. $1.18 billion will come to California: $800 million in zero-emissions technology investments and $380 million for environmental mitigation projects in the state. Attorney General Harris also secured, subject to court approval, an additional $86 million in civil penalties and significant injunctive terms to deter future misconduct by the company.
Attorney General Harris has vigorously defended AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has received global recognition as a leading example of legislation that promotes reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Attorney General’s office has also defended challenges to California’s cap and trade auctions and its precedent-setting Low Carbon Fuels Standard.