Jim Morriss Quoted in Natural Gas Week on Methane Regulations

“N.D. Sues Over Methane Rule; More Challenges Likely”

Lawmakers and regulators in Texas have been debating whether to pursue a legal challenge to the EPA rule, attorney James Morriss, head of the government and regulatory practice with Thompson and Knight in Austin, told NGW. He expects a key at the DC Circuit to be whether the EPA can use section 111(a) of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Performance Standards to simply regulate a new greenhouse gas.

“I think the argument can be made that you really can’t continue to bolt on new pollutants without a new, separate review of that pollutant under 111(a),” he said.

The methane rule applies only to new and modified facilities, meaning it would not affect the majority of wells already drilled in North Dakota or elsewhere as new drilling has been ratcheted back due to the oil and gas price downturn. However, Morriss expects the industry to seek legal clarity on the term “modified” to ensure the rule does not inadvertently pull existing facilities into the mix.

“Does a refracked well, for instance, suddenly become a ‘new’ facility that is now subject to the rule? There will be a lot of debate about this,” he said.