The American Petroleum Institute (API) asked a federal district court in San Francisco to allow it to weigh in on a pair of lawsuits filed last month regarding the Trump administration's decision to postpone the compliance dates for rules governing associated natural gas flaring and venting on public and tribal lands.
Last month, the states of California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke’s edict to delay the compliance dates for BLM's Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule -- aka the venting and flaring rule -- until January 2019. A coalition of environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club, did likewise.
In the motion to intervene filed last Friday, API called the lawsuits a "needless disruption" that would harm its members operating on BLM-managed oil and gas leases, and urged the court to uphold the suspension of the rule, which was established by the Obama administration.
"The industry will be directly and profoundly damaged if the suspended provisions of the venting and flaring rule take effect because those provisions arbitrarily limit -- and in many cases outright prohibit -- the venting and flaring of economically unrecoverable gas from API members' BLM-managed oil and gas leases," API attorneys said.
The San Francisco court last October sided with the attorneys general for California and New Mexico, as well as another coalition of environmental groups. The court ruled that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act four months earlier when BLM first proposed delaying the compliance dates.
The lawsuits, each filed on Dec. 19 with Judge William Orrick presiding, are State of California et al v. Ryan Zinke et al, No. 3:17-cv-7186; and Sierra Club et al v. Ryan Zinke et al, No. 3:17-cv-7187.