Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Judge rules in favor of BLM on methane emission rules from oil and gas on public and tribal lands

"The Obama administration's plan to cut methane emissions on public lands will take effect as scheduled today after a federal court last night rebuffed industry and state attempts to block the rule," Ellen Gilmer reports for Energywire. "The U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming denied requests from two industry groups and three states, which had asked for a preliminary injunction halting implementation of the Bureau of Land Management's new rule to slash methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands."

The rule, released in November, "sets gradual caps on how much methane may be flared and requires companies to use technologies to reduce flaring and inspect for leaks of the climate-warming substance, which is the main component of natural gas," Gilmer writes. It was challenged by Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance.

Opponents "say the rule is costly, duplicative and beyond BLM's authority because it is essentially an air quality regulation that falls on U.S. EPA's and states' turf," Gilmer writes. They asked Judge Scott Skavdahl—who froze and ultimately struck down the Obama administration's hydraulic fracturing rule last year—to pause the methane rule while the litigation moves forward. Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, denied the request, finding that the challengers had not met the steep requirements for a preliminary injunction."

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