EPA's Stay of Methane Rule Vacated

By: Michael K. Reer

On July 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stay of the final rulemaking “Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources.” The rulemaking amended the new source performance standards under the Clean Air Act for the oil and natural gas source category, most significantly for greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds. Although the final rule took effect on August 2, 2016, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted a petition seeking reconsideration of the rule on April 18, 2017 and issued a 90-day stay of the rule. By way of background, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to grant a petition for reconsideration, even after the effective date of the rule, if a petitioner makes an objection to the rule that was impracticable to raise within the comment period and that is of central relevance to the outcome of the rule. If EPA is required to grant the petition for reconsideration, the Clean Air Act allows a 90-day stay of the rule.

In granting several petitions for reconsideration, EPA stated that some aspects of the final rule were not logical outgrowths of the proposed rule. EPA reasoned that because the final rule was not a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule, petitioners did not have a fair opportunity to comment on the regulations that would become final. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected EPA’s logical outgrowth argument, noting that in the preamble to the proposed rule, EPA requested comment on several regulatory concepts that were included in the final rule as regulations. In short, the Court of Appeals reasoned that even though parts of the final regulations were expressed as regulatory concepts in the proposed rulemaking – and not in terms of draft regulations – the final rule did not fail the logical outgrowth test.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

EPA Requests Extension in Methane Lawsuit

By: Michael K. Reer

On April 7, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit temporarily halt a lawsuit brought by the American Petroleum Institute that challenges EPA’s recent new source performance standards for sources in the oil and gas sector. EPA stated in a filing that it will review the challenged regulation in accordance with President Donald Trump’s March 28, 2017 executive order that directs EPA to review the final rulemaking and, “if appropriate . . . suspend, revise, or rescind” the final rulemaking.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

PADEP Proposes New and Revised GPs for Methane


On February 4, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection opened a 45-day public comment period for two proposed general permits and revisions to an air quality permit exemption. The proposals are designed to reduce methane and other pollutants at well sites and compressor stations associated with natural gas drilling and transport. Specifically, PADEP proposes to revise its list of air quality permit exemptions and to issue GP-5 (Natural Gas Compression Stations, Processing Plants, and Transmission Stations) and GP-5A (Unconventional Natural Gas Well Site Operations and Remote Pigging Stations). PADEP noted in a press release issued on February 6, 2017 that the GP-5 and GP-5A would establish updated Best Available Technology requirements for the industry regarding air emission limits, source testing, leak detection and repair, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for the applicable air pollution sources.

The comment period closes March 21, 2017.
Tuesday, February 07, 2017

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