Energy Exchange

Key takeaways from the court decision blocking suspension of BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

By Rosalie Winn and  Samantha Caravello, EDF Legal Fellow

A U.S. District Court judge has halted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s latest effort to suspend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction last night in response to legal challenges brought by the states of California and New Mexico, and by EDF and a coalition of conservation and tribal citizen groups.

The court decision ensures that the Waste Prevention Protections are in full force and effect, delivering important benefits to tribes, ranchers and families across the West. It also demonstrates that facts matter, and that public input matters — and, as the court recognized, Zinke ignored both when he suspended the Waste Prevention Rule.

Here are some key takeaways from the court’s decision.

Zinke’s suspension would have resulted in immediate and irreparable harms Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

All pain, no gain: BLM methane rule rollback hurts Westerners, helps no one

The rhetoric of President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke might suggest they care about maximizing America’s abundant natural resources. However, their actions repeatedly prove the opposite.

Every day roughly one million dollars’ worth of American natural gas is lost from taxpayer-owned lands through flaring, intentional releases, and leaks. After first temporarily suspending measures to cut this waste, the Department of the Interior earlier this week proposed ‘replacing’ them with a measure that will turn the clock back to the 30-year-old rigged system that allows operators to waste this public resource with virtual impunity.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

The BLM rule should be in effect – what happened and what’s next?

January 17th should have been a positive milestone for Westerners and all Americans as limits on the unnecessary waste of American taxpayer-owned natural gas were slated to go into effect. Instead, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who has repeatedly shown that the least responsible companies in the oil and gas industry have his ear, has suspended this rule and greenlit the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars that could have gone to infrastructure, roads, education, and more.

The careless act is part of a pattern from Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration of misusing taxpayer resources and cozying up to the most egregious polluters. Even worse, the administration defended its efforts to remove the “burden” of involving the public in decision-making on public lands in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Three reasons Westerners are fighting to defend federal methane waste standards

Westerners are a hardy bunch. They are used to working through adverse conditions and making the best of what the land provides. That includes fighting to defend requirements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are designed to cut wasted natural gas and maximize revenue for community projects. This is despite repeated attempts from the Trump Administration to undercut these regulations and sell taxpayers short.

Here are three reasons communities and individuals from across the Mountain West are fighting to defend methane waste rules:

  1. Westerners hate waste: $1.8 billion and counting. That’s the value of taxpayer-owned natural gas that has been wasted since 2013 when the BLM began developing a new set of standards to address this problem. The rules finalized last November would help cut that waste and recover millions more in tax and royalty revenues for the western communities faced with impacts from oil and gas development that need it most.

Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A timeline of Zinke's crusade against methane rules

Here’s a newly-minted cabinet secretary charged with managing 20 percent of the American landscape on behalf of taxpayers and 567 Native American tribes – presented with an opportunity to save his stakeholders millions without lifting a finger.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, inexplicably, is rejecting this broad public relations win to instead go to bat for the worst actors in the oil and gas industry who only focus on their own short-term bottom line.

Zinke is trying with all his might to halt an Obama-era rule that will reduce wasteful leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas on federal and tribal lands.

On the lands in Secretary Zinke’s charge, oil and gas companies waste around $330 million worth of natural gas annually. That’s enough gas to meet the heating and cooking needs of 1.5 million American homes – or every home in Chicago.

Such waste on land administered by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management also results in the needless emission of methane, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, all of which are threats to human health and the environment. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

When Trump’s agencies undermine small businesses supporting responsible energy

Every physician would tell you that regular check-ups are important for your health, to catch problems before they become big issues, and to let you know that everything is in working order. Regular check-ups are also important for the oil and natural gas industry, whose leading actors benefit from periodic site inspections for natural gas leaks, which let product go to waste and pollute the air our families breathe.

Unfortunately, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt slammed the brakes on these regular check-ups for methane emissions (the main component of natural gas), when EPA announced its intention to freeze for two years safeguards that include a national standard for twice annual leak detection inspections at new well pads. And mere hours later, the Bureau of Land Management suspended waste prevention standards on federal and tribal lands. While these actions might initially be popular among some in the oil & gas community in Texas, the long-term repercussions will be severe.

With commodity prices recovering and a wave of development expected in the Permian Basin, the leak detection requirements were to take effect in time to support responsible development of new resources. Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed