A coalition of tribal citizen, environmental, health and western groups has asked a district court to reinstate protections designed to reduce natural gas flaring on public and tribal lands.
The request for a summary judgment, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is seeking to vacate the Trump administration’s recission and reinstate the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule, better known as rules covering venting and flaring.
Last year the Department of Interior sought to rescind most of the Obama-era rules governing associated gas flaring and venting on public and tribal lands. Interior also wants to revise other provisions, calling them "unnecessarily burdensome" for the oil and gas industry.
Attorneys general for California and New Mexico, had joined by more than a dozen environmental groups last fall, asking a federal district court in San Francisco to block Interior from rescinding and revising the rules.
In April, a Denver appellate court panel dismissed the legal challenges. At issue is a ruling in April 2018 by U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District of Wyoming, who said phasing in provisions of the regulations should be placed on hold to give BLM more time to revise or rescind the rule.
“The Trump administration’s rollback squanders money that belongs to the American taxpayers, and is putting the health of American families at risk by exposing them to more dangerous air pollution,” said attorney Rosalie Winn of the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs.
In the brief, the plaintiffs said “BLM admits the rescission decreases energy production...and will have no effect on jobs or investment,” but the “illogical reversal is just the latest in a string of unlawful actions BLM has taken to rid private companies of their obligation to conserve public resources.”
The recission, according to the brief, allows BLM to run “roughshod over its statutory duties to prevent waste, fails to base its changed positions on evidence and rationally explain them, and ignores significant environmental impacts.”