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Energy & Environment

Environmental Groups Hopeful After Methane Rule Win

One Houston group calls a recent federal appeals court ruling “promising.”


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A federal appeals court ruled that the EPA cannot stop an Obama-era rule on methane emissions from going into effect.

Environmental groups are feeling good about a recent court win against the Trump Administration.

The D.C. circuit appeals court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can’t delay an Obama-era Methane emissions rule. The court found the EPA didn't have the power under the Clean Air Act to delay the rule.

Environmental groups have also sued to stop the rollback of rules dealing with air pollution on federal lands, landfill emissions and other issues.

Bakeyah Nelson with Air Alliance Houston says the win in the methane case has made groups like hers more hopeful than they were a couple weeks ago.

“We haven't had many wins recently,” she says. “It's promising and it's hopeful that maybe some of the same arguments that were made in this case could be carried over to those cases as well."

Tracy Hester, environmental law professor at the University of Houston, says the methane ruling might not directly influence other court cases, but it will be “pretty persuasive.”

“It points direction to the way the court, at least the D.C. circuit, is thinking on these issues,” he says.

Hester notes that the ruling isn’t a slam dunk for environmentalists because the case only deals with the EPA's power to stop regulations from going into effect. The agency can always take the longer route to reversing rules.

“If EPA goes through the hoops, and actually goes through the same rule-making process it used to create the rule, it can undo the rule,” he says, adding that such a process would be measured in years and would likely face litigation as well.