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Attorneys General Sue BLM for Illegally Suspending Methane Waste Prevention Rule

AGs Becerra and Balderas Won Lawsuit Earlier This Year After Administration Attempted to Unlawfully Delay Rule

December 19, 2017
Contact: stateimpactcenter@nyu.edu

Washington, D.C.— California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas today sued the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for issuing a final rule that purports to suspend the Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The suit challenges BLM's latest ploy to avoid implementing the Obama-era Rule which prohibits oil and gas leasees from wasting public resources and requiring them to pay appropriate royalties for oil and gas that operators vent into the atmosphere or flare on-site. 

"Attorneys Generals Becerra and Balderas have relentlessly sought to ensure BLM follows the law and prevents the waste of methane that cheats taxpayers out of royalties owed for wasting valuable public resources," said David J. Hayes, executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center and former Interior deputy secretary. "They beat BLM in court this fall; they are going back to court once again to stand up for the rule of law." 

State attorneys general have aggressively opposed efforts to make it easier for oil and gas companies to waste methane and avoid paying appropriate royalties. 
  • In February, seven attorneys general wrote to U.S. Senate leaders opposing a Congressional Review Act resolution that would void important safeguards that are vital to controlling the leaking, venting, and flaring of methane from oil and natural gas developments on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management." 
  • The Congress heeded the AGs' request and did not nullify the Rule under CRA.
  • BLM then unilaterally tried to postpone implementation dates included in the rule.
  • Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas sued to stop the postponement of key compliance dates under the Rule. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, agreed with the AGs and ruled that the Administration cannot postpone implementation of the final Rule. It must proceed through notice-and-comment rulemaking to revise or replace the Rule. 
  • BLM subsequently went through the motions of promulgating a new rule that would delay its implementation until 2019, the same result that the U.S. Districit Court had disallowed. The AGs are again headed to court to stop this cynical effort to delay implementation of a legally-promulgated rule that has the force of law. 
ABOUT THE STATE IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.