Methane Waste Prevention Rule madness continues

You need a live scoreboard to keep up with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The 2016 rule would reduce the amount of taxpayer-owned natural gas that oil and gas companies waste through flaring, venting, and leaking.

Last December, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delayed implementation of the rule for a year. BLM followed up on February 12 by proposing to replace the rule. BLM’s own analysis found the replacement would:

  • Cut natural gas production on public lands by as much as 299 billion cubic feet, enough gas to heat nearly 500,000 homes for ten years.
  • Cost taxpayers more than $800 million in wasted natural gas.
  • Lose up to $32.7 million in royalty payments to the federal and state governments.

Then, on February 22, a district court in California ended the Interior Department’s delay of the 2016 rule. The suspension was “untethered to evidence,” wrote judge William Orrick. He noted that the plaintiffs, including WORC and Fort Berthold POWER, could succeed in the lawsuit because Interior’s BLM failed to justify its decision to postpone provisions of the rule.

But a Wyoming judge changed the score again. Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled on April 4 that BLM could suspend the 2016 rule. So, the rule is not in effect. WORC and the other plaintiffs are appealing this decision.

The 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule resulted from years of grassroots work, including efforts by WORC and its member groups, 330,000 public comments, four listening sessions, and four public hearings. The rule would ensure taxpayers receive millions of dollars each year in missing royalties. It would reduce smog and pollution from methane—a greenhouse gas 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The comment period for the replacement rule closes April 23. WORC and allies plan to flood the BLM with comments urging the agency to keep the 2016 rule intact.

You can send your comments on WORC’s Action Page.

Sign up for WORC blogs

Receive notice of new blog posts by signing up here.