NY leads coalition in climate change suit

New York’s latest activist-attorney general has put the EPA on notice about greenhouse gas emissions – more specifically, methane.

Eric Schneiderman’s office sent a release this morning describing a multi-state coalition  “to curb climate change pollution from (the) oil and gas industry.”

Schneiderman calls methane, “a very potent greenhouse gas.” Pound for pound, the release states, “it warms the climate about 25 times more than carbon dioxide.”

The seven states, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode island, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware, sent a notice of intent to sue today, charging:

EPA has missed the applicable deadline for determining whether standards and guidelines limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations under section 111 of the Clean Air Act are appropriate and for issuing such standards, EPA’s ongoing failure to address the sector’s methane emissions violates the Clean Air Act and harms the health and welfare of our residents.


In the press release, Schneiderman writes that the EPA’s “failure” leaves 95% of this pollution unregulated and uncontrolled.

“Today,” he writes, “our coalition is putting EPA on notice that we are prepared to sue to force action on curbing climate change pollution from the oil and gas industry.”

The detailed, seven-page notice of intent traces the background of greenhouse emissions’ contributions to climate change, touching on the melting glaciers and ice caps, severe droughts,  and a “string” of extreme storms in the Northeast. It notes the EPA issued its first standards for the oil and gas industry in 1985, and finalized  the required review of those rules just this year  – leaving out methane.


It says, “EPA has long known the significance of the oil and gas sector’s contribution to methane emissions and the availability and cost-effectiveness of measures for reducing those emissions.”

And concludes:

We are willing to explore any effective means of resolving this matter without the need for litigation. However, if we do not hear from you within the applicable time periods provided in section 304 of the Act, we intend to file suit in United States District Court.

The attorneys general’s suit comes as New York’s environmental conservation department struggles to finalize its own rules for regulating hydrofracking in New York State. Hydrofracking’s been on hold in the state since 2008; the final regulations are now expected by the end of February.

16 Comments on “NY leads coalition in climate change suit”

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  1. Paul says:

    “activist-attorney general” Ouch!

  2. Walker says:

    Yeah, you wouldn’t want your state attorney general to actively seek to put a stop to 95% of climate change pollution. That could be bad for profits.

  3. Mervel says:

    I am glad he is out there helping working men and women. I am sure he is real concerned about the poverty rate in New York State and the unemployment rate in upstate New York.

  4. Mervel says:

    This is the reason that NYS is known as being anti-business. We should be encouraging the energy sector to do business in our state not bringing suite against them; you have a bunch of crooks running around wall street he has a state full of toxic waste dumps and he is suing and industry that is not even in the state, its just politics and it hurts the working people of NYS.

  5. Walker says:

    Mervel, the seven states joining in the suit are suing the EPA, to try to make the EPA follow existing law. So it has nothing to do with New York State being unfriendly to business– this will have effect nationwide. And since New York is on the East coast, and prevailing winds hit us from the rest of the nation, it should be a good thing locally, as well as globally. And how, exactly, do you figure it will harm the working people of NYS?

  6. Paul says:

    Mervel he is talking about suing the EPA.

  7. Paul says:

    This is maybe good but is there a reasonable way to produce the energy that we need economically (and realistically) that does not produce this emission problem. If the answer is no (or we are just not there yet) then it means that it makes no sense. You will not get the desired outcome by applying this stick? The outcome that you will get is one I was trying to articulate yesterday an energy economy that only well off individuals can afford. Some folks idea of an energy policy these days is what I would call “the energy policy for the 1%”.

  8. Paul says:

    “try to make the EPA follow existing law.” The question is why are they not following existing law? The reason may be that we have passed a law that is totally out of touch with reality. Will following the law put us in the dark or the poor house (also in the dark)?

  9. Mervel says:

    He must have a lot of time on his hands. Bring back spritzer at least he made some stands against wall street that actually occurred on nys . There are plenty of issues in NY.

  10. tootightmike says:

    Maybe Paul isn’t old enough to remember the good old days, and what American industries were like before the Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act became law. I grew up in an industrial city in Ohio, and can clearly remember what the air looked like in places like Akron, Youngstown, or Pittsburg. I can remember having to roll up the windows and hold our breath when passing through Buffalo, and even today I get a twinge of nostalgia whenever one my hillbilly neighbors burns his trash in the woodstove.
    Now when I see those news photos of Chinese cities and their technicolor skies, I wish we could have these things too.

  11. Paul says:

    tootight, you miss my pint entirely. The idea of the regulations are noble. But if they are unenforceable, impractical under the current circumstances, and crush lower income individuals with higher energy costs how can that be a working model?

  12. Paul says:

    tootight, I have been to China, and so despite my young age (thanks) I have seen in person what you have seen in pictures. And it ain’t pretty. And, despite the stories of their attempts at alternative energy, they have no intention of slowing down with their polluting ways. How to deal with this problem is the question. Is it for us to set a good example and hope that they follow suit? Not going to happen. Building an economy that allows us to develop sequestration technology that might save the planet (at least for us humans, it will still be here when we are gone) is the best hope and one that will gain wide ranging acceptance and there might actually be political support to execute. Or we can keep debating till it is too late. Probably what will happen. But I am optimistic we have good technology already under development.

  13. Newt says:

    Mervel –
    Schneiderman has a pretty good record going after Wall St. crooks,etc., in the Spitzer tradition. Here’s what his Wikipedia article says,

    “In his first weeks in office, Attorney General Schneiderman launched a plan to root out fraud and return money illegally stolen from New York taxpayers at no additional cost to the state. This initiative includes a new “Taxpayer Protection Unit” specifically designed to go after corruption in state contracts, pension fund rip-offs, and large-scale tax cheats. Schneiderman has also bolstered the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by cracking down on fraud in the Medicaid program.

    He was also instrumental in pushing for a tougher fraud settlement with large banks over illegal foreclosure practices. Along with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Schneiderman pushed to prevent the settlement from including immunity for the banks from further investigation and prosecution of other related illegal activities.[14]”

    Everyone knows that NYS AGs have been consistently miles in front of the Feds in important legal initiatives. This could be one. I suspect so.

  14. Pete Klein says:

    Paul, you make a great point on why all illegal drugs should be made legal, especially pot. If you can’t enforce the law, get rid of it.

  15. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Did you ever wonder why many of the same people that are all for outlawing tobacco or women wearing too much perfume or coal plants think smoking pot is so okay it’s practically a healthy thing?

  16. Mervel says:

    You could be right Newt.

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