A federal court ruled the Trump administration “unlawfully” delayed a regulation limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal lands.
The U.S. District Court of Northern California ruled against the Trump administration hours after officials published a proposal to delay the methane rule in the Federal Register.
Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte said the Interior Department violated the Administrative Procedures Act by indefinitely delaying parts of the methane rule from being implemented. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delayed the rule in June.
Laporte’s ruling means the methane rule will go into effect. The rule requires oil and gas producers operating on federal land to install equipment to stop leaks and capture methane that would otherwise be vented or flared.
The Obama administration finalized the $1.8 billion rule in late 2016. It was one of many “midnight” regulations finalized in the weeks before President Donald Trump took office.
The Interior Department put the rule under review in June, setting it up for repeal. That came after Congress failed to pass a bill repealing the methane rule in May. Three Republican senators voted against repealing the methane rule.
Some oil and gas drillers have already complied with the rule, though others will now have to scramble to catch up. It could take months before the Trump administration can legally delay the rule.
“As we strengthen America’s energy independence, we intend to evaluate regulations to determine if they unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, or prevent job creation,” acting Bureau of Land Management Director Michael Nedd said in a statement.
“Our proposal would give the BLM sufficient time to review the 2016 final rule and consider revising or rescinding its requirements,” Nedd said.
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