Winning by Helping EPA

by Tim Wigley, President on June 9, 2015 - 10:33am

Hydraulic Fracturing in UtahLast week, we had an exciting legal victory as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Western Energy Alliance and the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and ruled against environmental litigants. While we’re often Fighting the Overreach of federal agencies, in the case of Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality v. EPA we stepped in to support the federal government.

As a defendant-intervenor, our excellent legal reasoning from Bret Sumner’s team at Beatty & Wozniak was adopted by the State of Utah and the counties and the key to the court’s decision supporting EPA’s decision not to designate Utah’s Uinta Basin as non-attainment for ozone.

Seeking to stop oil and natural gas development, WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups sued, asking EPA to violate the Clean Air Act by designating the basin before sufficient quality data were collected. 

At Western Energy Alliance, we’re aggressive in our advocacy, and regularly take actions to restrain excessive actions by federal agencies. Again, these environmental groups asked the EPA to violate requirements under the law. Apparently the ends justify the means when it comes to the environment.

Fighting the overreach usually means providing a check on regulatory agencies, but at times it means supporting them to do the right thing when they face unreasonable challenges like this from environmental activists.

While we happen to be in a period where the federal government is throwing so much bad policy our way and we need to aggressively retaliate (like our BLM fracking rule lawsuit and our sage grouse Data Quality Act challenge), that doesn’t mean we’re always just saying “NO!” There are many instances where we’ve taken actions to support federal agencies:

  • Western Energy Alliance has worked with the State of Utah, EPA, BLM, NOAA and the counties to study winter ozone formation in the Uinta Basin and reduce emissions significantly, and there hasn’t been a high ozone reading since December 2013
  • We’re intervening along with API to help the Fish & Wildlife Service support its decisions not to list the Wolverine and Gunnison’s Prairie Dog as endangered in the face of environmental group lawsuits
  • We’ve intervened in the face of yet another environmental group lawsuit to support BLM’s analysis that leasing in Montana can go forward because it has an infinitesimal impact on climate change 
  • We worked closely with BLM to pass a bill into law last year to continue funding for APD processing. 

These are just some examples of how we work with agencies. While we’re in for a summer where we’re going to have to say “no” to many things, such as with new methane rules, federal sage grouse plans, royalty and fee increases, our advocacy does have a well-rounded approachand we support agency actions when they’re reasonable.