In summary

In what is becoming a familiar pattern, the state of California has notified the Trump Administration of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce an Obama-era law calling for reduction in methane gas emissions. Methane’s potent heat-trapping capacity makes it many times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

In what is becoming a familiar pattern, the state of California has notified the Trump Administration of its intent to sue the federal Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce an Obama-era law calling for reduction in methane gas emissions.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

The EPA had previously issued rules requiring cuts to emission from new or modified oil and gas facilities, but California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is arguing federal law mandates that once regulations are issued for new sources, the EPA must establish guidelines for existing sources.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s failure to issue new rules, Becerra said, is a violation of the Clean Air Act. In fact, in March Pruitt withdrew a federal request asking the fossil fuel industry to provide the EPA with emissions data.

“When the science and the law are clear, it’s not time to stall, it’s our duty to move forward,” said Attorney General Becerra. “States are leading the way—requiring the oil and natural gas industry to do more to reduce this potent greenhouse gas pollutant—and it’s past time for the EPA to step up to the plate. If it takes a lawsuit to get the EPA to fulfill its obligations, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Methane’s potent heat-trapping capacity makes it many times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Regulating methane emissions is a critical component of California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases. The state Air Resources Board recently limited methane coming from both new and existing oil and gas sources.

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Julie Cart joined CalMatters as a projects and environment reporter in 2016 after a long career at the Los Angeles Times, where she held many positions: sportswriter, national correspondent and environment...