Groups sue over methane waste on public lands
A coalition of conservation and tribal citizen groups today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the Trump Administration’s suspension of the Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule and seeking to have these protections put back in place.
The rule requires companies drilling on public and tribal lands to use common-sense, proven measures to reduce natural gas that is leaked, vented or flared. This is the latest in a series of unsuccessful attempts by the oil and gas industry and the Trump administration to block the rule, which went into effect in January 2017.
Industry trade groups and several states previously tried, and failed, to get a court to prevent the rule from going into effect. In May 2017, the U.S. Senate voted not to consider repeal of the rule in a bipartisan, 51 to 49 vote. The Trump administration then unilaterally suspended parts of the rule, but that action was struck down by a California court in October.
Despite this ruling, on December 8, the administration once again attempted to stay compliance for one year while it rewrites the rule.
The rule was designed to update waste regulations that were more than 30 years old and did not reflect the dramatic advances in oil and gas drilling technology or the rapid expansion of drilling operations on public lands in recent years. The rule saves taxpayers millions of dollars in royalties every year, and reduces harmful cancer-causing and smog-forming pollution. It also reduces pollution from methane, a greenhouse gas 87 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.