美聯邦法院裁定 川普無權暫緩前朝甲烷限令


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美聯邦法院裁定 川普無權暫緩前朝甲烷限令

建立於 2017/07/07
摘譯自2017年7月4日ENS美國,華盛頓特區報導;姜唯編譯;蔡麗伶審校

美國哥倫比亞特區巡迴上訴法院三位法官以2比1的票數裁定,環保署(Environmental Protection Agency,EPA)無權暫緩歐巴馬時代訂定的天然氣石油井甲烷排放限令,要求環保署遵守限令中所規定的洩漏偵測和修復要求。

甲烷的溫室氣體威力是二氧化碳的22倍。甲烷排放限令原訂於今年6月3日開始執行,但是環保署長普魯特4月時宣布將延後90天,給石油和天然氣業者緩衝時間,並讓環保署重新審視規範內容。

WildEarth Guardians(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
天然氣石油井甲烷。圖片來源:WildEarth Guardians(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

美國石油研究所、德州石油與天然氣協會和其他產業團體向普魯特請願,要求進一步確認規範內容,希望普魯特撤銷原訂6月執行的限令。

5月時,普魯特宣布要把暫緩90天延長為兩年。普魯特未依法律規定公告和跑公聽流程就發出90天暫緩命令,而命令內容顯示普魯特很可能無限延後執行日期。

六個環團向法院提出訴訟,要求法官駁回普魯特的決定。在判決結果中,法院不同意普魯特聲稱產業團體沒有機會在2016年限令生效前提出異議。法院指出,普魯特無權延後執行期限。

「法院認為EPA的暫緩執行命令等同於修改或撤銷規定。」法官Robert Wilkins 和David Tatel寫道,對此Janice Rogers Brown則持異議。

兩位法官表示EPA有權扭轉甲烷限令,但是必須重新啟動決策流程,以取消前朝的規範。

EPA發言人表示,內部正在重新審視規範內容和研討可能選項。

今年5月底,川普在退出巴黎協定前宣布暫緩甲烷限令。

自然資源保護委員會(Natural Resources Defense Council)聯合乾淨空氣委員會、環境組織Earthworks、環境保護基金會(Environmental Defense Fund)、環境正義計畫(Environmental Integrity Project)和塞拉俱樂部(Sierra Club)一起提出訴訟,指控川普政府暫緩執行重要甲烷等氣體洩漏防護政策,已經違反乾淨空氣法。

總部位於賓州的乾淨空氣委員會指出,甲烷限令暫緩執行甚至撤銷,光是在賓州就會影響800座油井,造成超過500噸甲烷洩漏,並排出140噸會形成霧霾、影響健康的有毒氣體至空氣中。

乾淨空氣委員會執行董事兼首席顧問Joseph Otis Minotte表示,「川普此舉顯示他的EPA照顧污染源多於照顧人民。」

Court: EPA Must Enforce Obama Methane Emissions Limit
WASHINGTON, DC, July 4, 2017 (ENS)

A federal appeals court has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to suspend a rule restricting methane emissions from new oil and gas wells imposed during the Obama administration.

In a split 2-1 ruling, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move ahead with the requirement that aims to reduce heat-trapping emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The leak detection and repair requirements were scheduled to take full effect on June 3. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in April that he would delay by 90 days the deadline for oil and gas companies to follow the new rule, so that the agency could reconsider the requirement.

The American Petroleum Institute, the Texas Oil and Gas Association and other industry groups petitioned Pruitt to jettison the requirement, set to apply in June, claiming the need for more regulatory certainty before the methane emissions limit is enforced.

In May, Pruitt announced he had decided to extend the 90-day stay for two years.

Pruitt issued the 90-day stay without advance public notice or opportunity for public comment, as required by law. This is the first step the EPA is taking to dismantle methane standards; the stay notice indicates that Pruitt he would soon propose to extend the stay indefinitely.

Six environmental groups opposed the delay in court, asking the judges to halt Pruitt’s decision.

In its ruling, the court disagreed with Pruitt’s argument that industry groups had too little opportunity to comment before the 2016 rule took effect. The judges said Pruitt lacked the legal authority to delay the rule.

“E.P.A.’s stay, in other words, is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule,” wrote Judges Robert Wilkins and David Tatel. Judge Janice Rogers Brown dissented.

The majority judges said that the agency had the right to reverse the methane regulations but that the agency would have to undertake a new rule-making process to undo the Obama administration’s regulation.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the ruling and considering its options.

President Donald Trump announced the rollback in late May, just before withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate.

“In its haste to do favors for its polluter cronies, the Trump EPA has broken the law,” said Meleah Geertsma, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, one of the appealing groups.

“The Trump administration does not have unlimited power to put people’s health in jeopardy with unchecked, unilateral executive action like this,” Geertsma said. “Stopping methane leaks is a no-brainer—avoiding wasted gas, creating jobs, fighting climate change and cutting cancer-causing pollution all at once. We will not stand for this blatant polluter giveaway.”

NRDC, together with Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Integrity Project and Sierra Club​, filed the lawsuit.

The Trump administration violated the Clean Air Act in suspending critical protections against methane leaks and other dangerous air pollution from the oil and gas industry last week, the groups claimed.

Based in Pennsylvania, Clean Air Council says the delay of the EPA’s standards, and their possible subsequent rollback, would affect 800 wells in Pennsylvania alone, “creating more than 500 tons of methane pollution and 140 more tons of smog-forming and health-threatening toxic chemicals in the air.”

Joseph Otis Minotte, executive director and chief counsel of the Clean Air Council, said, “President Trump and his EPA are sending a very clear message that they care more about protecting polluters than people.”

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※ 全文及圖片詳見:ENS

 

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