A coalition of 14 states, led by West Virginia, sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday over its far-reaching regulations for the oil and gas sector, calling the rules a "job-killing attack" on the nation's oil and natural gas workers.
The lawsuit asks the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the EPA's rule regulating methane emissions from new, reconstructed and modified oil and gas wells that use fracking, saying that the agency is exceeding its statutory authority.
The states argue that the regulations impose an "unnecessary and burdensome" standard on the oil and natural gas industry, "while setting the stage for further limits on existing oil and gas operations before President Obama leaves office."
"This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach jeopardizing West Virginia jobs and working families," said state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry's success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low."
The states argue that the regulations "would raise production and distribution costs and, in turn, force an increase in consumer utility bills" by making fuel costs higher for power plants that are increasingly dependent on low-priced natural gas. "The EPA itself predicts its regulations will cost $530 million in 2025, while other studies project the annual price tag may hit $800 million."
Morrisey's state, in addition to coal, has become a leader in natural gas production from shale. "The natural gas, pipeline and construction sectors provide thousands of jobs to hard-working West Virginians. Imposing unnecessary and costly regulations will jeopardize those jobs," his office added in a statement.
In addition to the Mountaineer State, the lawsuit includes attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin, along with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.