U.S. District Court rules against BLM methane waste rule delay

Statement from Earthworks’ Policy Director Lauren Pagel

“Once again, the Trump administration’s attempts to waste our natural resources and pollute our communities has come up short in the courts. Secretary Ryan Zinke’s delay of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Prevention rule was, in the words of the court, “untethered to evidence.”

Zinke’s blatant disregard for facts and science has allowed natural resources owned by all Americans to be unnecessarily wasted for months while this rule should have been in effect. Earthworks optical gas imaging thermographers have documented dozens of cases of methane and other health-harming pollution at oil and gas facilities on public lands in Zinke’s jurisdiction during this undue delay. Now, we will file official complaints with the BLM and seek speedy remedy.

Yet, Zinke is proposing another way to dismantle these safeguards. Just yesterday, Zinke proposed a replacement rule that guts the Methane Waste Prevention rule and encourages industry waste and pollution. In the next 60 days Americans, the true owners of our public lands, must come together to oppose this dangerously inadequate proposed rule and demand Zinke enforce the current law.”

HISTORY
The Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Prevention rule was threatened by the Congressional Review Act back in January 2017, but the vote failed (49-51). Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a 1-year delay, but the US District Court in California struck down that delay under the Administrative Procedures Act, putting parts of the rule in effect. However, Zinke simply proposed another rule delaying the BLM methane until January 2019. In December of 2017, BLM finalized the suspension of the rule until 2019, and states and environmental groups filed new lawsuits in California. On February 22, the BLM published a proposed rule to rescind all of the critical elements of the rule. The comment period for the proposed rescission ends on April 23, 2018.