Industry Groups Sue Over New Federal Rule Targeting Oil And Gas Emissions

Nov 15, 2016

Credit Stephanie Joyce

Industry groups are already fighting back against a federal rule released Tuesday that would curb methane emissions from oil and gas wells on public lands. 

The rule would restrict venting and flaring from roughly 100,000 wells and the Department of the Interior says it could cut oil and gas emissions by up to 35 percent.

But less than an hour after the government released the rule, industry groups sued to overturn it, saying the Interior Department doesn't have authority to regulate oil and gas in this way. They also argue the rule is too heavy-handed and will make producing natural gas more expensive.

“We’ll be filing a preliminary injunction soon, to try to stop it before it goes into effect January 17—and that date is no accident, by the way,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance.

If the rule is not stayed by a court, it would be difficult, but not impossible, for the incoming Trump administration to overturn it.

The existing rule is more than 30 years old. Environmental groups said Tuesday it is time for an update. 

“This rule being put in place will ensure that we, as the owners of federal lands and federal resources, will see our fair share come back,” said Josh Mantell, energy and climate campaign manager for the Wilderness Society. In 2014, oil companies operating on federal lands vented or flared enough gas to power more than a million homes.