An Obama-era rule seeking to limit methane emissions from oil and gas projects is no longer in effect. It sought to reduce leaking, flaring and venting of natural gas in drilling operations. The U.S. District Court in Wyoming has paused the Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule until the agency completes revisions. That process is currently underway.
It’s been a consistent target of the Trump administration with delay attempts, as well as the call for revisions.
In February, a California court had re-instated the rule. Soon after, the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America requested a preliminary injunction from the Wyoming court. They argued the rule should not stay in place since it would likely be revised significantly.
Kathleen Sgamma, President of the WEA, said “the Wyoming judge found a practical solution. So rather than having companies suddenly comply with the rule, he recognizes two things. One, that coming into compliance takes time and two, that this rule is being significantly rewritten so it makes no sense for companies to comply for a short period of time."
Lead Attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund Peter Zalzal said it’s important to underscore the court did not find the Waste Prevention Rule was unlawful.
"The decision today is not a judgment on the merits. It doesn’t invalidate the Waste Prevention Rule or determine that it’s unlawful, just a suspension of the rule,” he said.
Zalzal added his group plans to appeal the decision.
"We think the decision is deeply problematic and as the judge acknowledged in the decision, he didn’t consider some key legal factors in determining to stay the standards,” he said.
Western Energy Alliance’s Sgamma said their chances of success in an appeal are pretty low. Public comment on revisions to the Waste Prevention Rule close April 23.