Economy

Court blocks Trump's 'unlawful' delay of Obama methane leak rule

Court blocks Trump's 'unlawful' delay of Obama methane leak rule”

Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the District Court for the Northern District of California said the Interior Department can not use a provision in the Administrative Procedure Act to delay the rule on methane emissions on federal land, as it tried to do in June.

It means that for now, the January 2018 compliance date for the rule is in effect.

"Natural gas and oil operators across the country share the DOI's objectives of conserving resources and preventing waste", said American Petroleum Institute spokesman Erik Milito. The bureau will open a period of public comment on the regulations. Earthjustice is already representing Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Western Organization of Resource Councils in court to prevent the administration from delaying this rule.

"The BLM Methane rule is a win-win-win: it saves millions of taxpayer dollars, prevents risky chemicals from polluting the air our children breath, and protects our environment".

Methane is the main component of natural gas and is a greenhouse gas about 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide. The BLM said it was "concerned" it may have underestimated the costs and overestimated the benefits of the venting and flaring rule, hence the need for the delay. It doesn't make sense to have companies comply with a rule that will be substantially changed in the near future.

"By suspending the BLM methane rule, Interior Secretary [Ryan] Zinke and the Trump Administration make clear that they're fine with wasting taxpayer dollars and polluting our air so long as it helps their billionaire and lobbyist cronies", Lauren Pagel, policy director at Earthworks, said in a statement. The administration is going through the proper rulemaking process to correct this unlawful rule, but that process takes time.

Conversely, environmental groups voiced outrage over the move.

Drillers on federal lands produced 9% of the natural gas and 5% of the oil in the USA last fiscal year.



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