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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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February 15, 2023

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul backed policies to help address climate change as part of two multistate coalitions — one supporting a federal proposal to regulate methane emissions in the oil and natural gas industry and another calling for more transparency from federal contractors.

Americans are witnessing the catastrophic results of climate change. The impacts of these changes reverberate through the U.S. economy, endangering workers, impacting health care costs, and damaging natural resources and infrastructure. In the United States in 2021, there were 20 extreme weather disasters compared with an average of 3.1 such events per year in the 1980s. The average cost per year from climate disasters has also markedly increased, even when adjusted for inflation. The average cost per year in the 1980s was $19.5 billion; the average cost per year in the 2010s was $89.2 billion; and the cost in 2021 was $148 billion.

“The science is clear – climate change is real. As a country, we need to take meaningful action to address its devastating effects,” Raoul said. “That’s why I support the regulation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the oil and gas industry and a move to create greater transparency around how climate change impacts the delivery of federal services.”

Raoul, as part of a multistate coalition, expressed support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental proposal to, for the first time, regulate methane emissions from existing facilities in the oil and natural gas industry, which comprise the majority of emissions in this sector. The proposal would also strengthen regulation of emissions from new, modified and reconstructed facilities. The EPA estimates that, if adopted, the supplemental proposal will reduce emissions of methane by 36 million tons, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 9.7 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 390,000 tons between 2023 and 2035.

Methane is a super pollutant up to 83 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere. The production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and natural gas are the largest single industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S. For nearly a decade, states have urged the EPA to regulate methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector as a central component in the fight against climate change.

In  a comment letter, Raoul and the group support the EPA’s supplemental proposal, which would address several issues that were raised by the coalition’s comments on EPA’s 2021 proposal. Raoul and the coalition also identify additional ways to further strengthen the supplemental proposal, including by:

  • Requiring a shorter repair period for methane leaks if the well site is located in proximity to an already overburdened community.
  • Adding restrictions on the amount of time that operators are allowed to idle wells and limiting the number of idle wells that an individual owner can hold.
  • Prohibiting routine flaring with an exception only for safety and emergencies.
  • Lowering the threshold for defining super-emitter emission events.
  • Designing the super-emitter response program to maximize community participation.

Raoul is joined in filing the comments by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. The city of Chicago also joined the coalition.

Raoul also joined a coalition of attorneys general in support of a proposed federal rule that would require federal contractors to disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and the risks they face from climate change.

The U.S. government employs more than 5,000 contractors, companies or individuals in industries ranging from health care and construction to aviation and delivery services, that produce goods or services critical to maintaining the U.S. economy. As climate change continues to accelerate, with worsening floods, droughts and other extreme weather events, these federal contractors face huge risks — to their expenses, their functioning and to the health and safety of their workers.

In  a comment letter, Raoul and the attorneys general assert that the proposed rule would provide the federal government with significant information about how its contractors and suppliers are exposed to, tracking and managing these risks.

The coalition argues that this information is vital for the U.S. government to make informed decisions on how best to protect workers and create a resilient supply chain that will withstand the impacts of climate change. The information provided under the proposed rule will help federal officials understand not only the impacts of physical destruction contractors may face, but also the impacts of increased insurance costs and energy expenses, and diminishing worker health, safety and productivity. In addition, as the U.S. adapts to climate change, the government needs to assess the vulnerability of its contractors to economic, regulatory and legal adjustments. The information will also benefit taxpayers through increased transparency and accountability, allowing them to better understand how the federal government is spending and managing public funds.