Texas sues Biden administration over finalized methane rule

The state of Texas on Friday sued the Biden administration over an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule restricting methane emissions finalized earlier Friday morning.

The lawsuit was requested in late January by the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s primary oil and gas regulator, while the rule was still being finalized. In a request to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), the commission asked for legal action on the rule. Paxton responded Friday with a legal petition against the federal rule.

The EPA estimates the rule, first announced in 2023, could cut up to 58 million tons of methane emissions by 2038. It adds more stringent requirements for practices such as flaring and plugging leaks. While methane dissipates from the atmosphere faster than carbon dioxide, it is far more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

In a statement in February, the Railroad Commission called the rule “extremely unreasonable, and time-consuming, given that there have been vast improvements with reduced methane emissions in the state.”

“The new rules will create an undue burden on regulators as well as the oil and gas industry, by forcing further emission reductions in remote, unmanned locations,” the commission said.

Environmental advocacy and legal groups blasted the vote by the commission and the complaint from Paxton’s office, noting the hazards associated with methane.

“The EPA’s strong methane rule will force significant cuts to this dangerous pollution, and we’re ready to go to court to defend it against the Texas lawsuit or any other baseless industry attacks,” Maggie Coulter, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement. “For way too long oil and gas companies have gotten away with venting and ignoring leaks of this extraordinarily powerful greenhouse gas, and that has to stop. Curbing methane pollution is important, but it has to be part of a larger plan to fight the climate emergency with a swift, just transition to renewables.”

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

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