Lawsuit Against Postponement of Methane Waste
The Trump administration has decided to indefinitely postpone a rule that requires oil and gas companies to minimize waste and fix leaks from oil and gas development on public land—a decision that violates federal law.
A broad coalition of conservation and public interest groups have joined the states of California and New Mexico in challenging the U.S. Department of the Interior’s move to indefinitely suspend implementation of the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The BLM, under the Trump administration’s direction, has provided notice that the rule, which is already in effect, will be postponed pending judicial review in the District of Wyoming, a move that runs counter to what is allowed under federal law.
The BLM waste rule, finalized in 2016, updates antiquated, 30-year old regulations. It requires companies to fix leaky, faulty equipment and reduce natural gas waste on public lands. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, enough natural gas was unnecessarily wasted and leaked between 2009 and 2015 to serve more than 6 million households for a year. The updated waste rule requires companies to perform leak detection and repair with affordable, off-the-shelf technologies, and restricts methane venting (deliberately releasing gas into the atmosphere), and flaring (burning off gas unused at the wellhead). The Trump administration’s decision not to enforce the BLM waste rule would allow industry to avoid these common-sense waste reduction measures, and continue to unnecessarily waste our publicly owned resources. Methane waste not only shortchanges taxpayers, it harms public health and contributes significantly to climate emissions.