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New York State to Sue EPA For Failure to Act on Methane Emissions


Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector

It is well known that the increasing occurrence of severe weather systems is caused by global warming, which, in turn, is driven by human industrialization. The recent superstorm Hurricane Sandy, on its own, probably wasn’t much of an indicator of climate change, but when seen as part of a pattern, it has become clear that something needs to be done.

“From severe droughts and heat waves to a string of devastating storms in the northeast over the last two years, it is becoming ever more apparent that increasing greenhouse gas pollution contributes to climate disruption in the US and around the globe,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote.

Greenhouse gases [GHG], including carbon dioxide [CO2], water vapor [H2O], Methane [CH4], and Ozone [O3], hydrofluorocarbons [HFC], and perfluorocarbons [PFC], among others, add to the greenhouse effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], years ago, took measures on HFCs and PFCs, a couple of major man-made greenhouse gases. Since the 1970s, the EPA has legislated CO2-reduction measures in industrial and automobile sectors.

Methane, a by-product of petroleum refining, is not as prevalent in the atmosphere as CO2, but is over 70x more potent as a GHG. Unfortunately, the EPA hasn’t been so active in regulating methane emissions.

New York State, along with Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts, is seeking reparations from the federal government, citing the EPA’s lack of action regarding methane emissions.

“While it is clear that methane from oil and natural gas development contributes substantially to climate change pollution, regulators have failed to require the industry to use available and cost-effective measures to control these emissions,” Schneiderman states.

As the northeastern states assess and recover from storm damages surpassing $50 billion dollars, the seven-state coalition will seek litigation unless the EPA starts moving forward on methane-regulating standards.

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