Description: Challenge to U.S. Bureau of Land Management decision to postpone compliance dates for waste prevention rule.
California v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/04/2017 Order Download Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment granted. As Compliance Date for Methane Waste Rule Neared, California Federal Court Ruled That BLM Could Not Postpone Compliance. On October 4, the federal district court for the Northern District of California vacated the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) postponement of the compliance date for certain provisions of the methane waste rule, which was intended to reduce waste of natural gas through venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands. The rule took effect on January 17, 2017; on June 15, 2017, BLM issued a notice of postponement of January 17, 2018 compliance dates. The court held that BLM had acted outside its authority to postpone the “effective date” of a rule under Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court rejected the defendants’ argument that “effective date” in Section 705 also encompassed compliance dates; the court also found that BLM had violated the APA’s notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements. In addition, the court held that BLM’s postponement of the compliance dates was arbitrary and capricious because pending litigation challenging the review was not a true reason for the postponement, as required by Section 705, and because BLM “entirely failed” to consider the rule’s benefits in its determination that justice required postponement. The court stated: “New presidential administrations are entitled to change policy positions, but to meet the requirements of the APA they must give reasoned explanations for those changes and ‘address [the] prior factual findings’ underpinning a prior regulatory regime.” A day after the court’s decision, BLM published a proposed rule to temporarily suspend or delay certain requirements until January 17, 2019. 09/07/2017 Order Download Motion to transfer denied. The California federal court denied the defendants' motion to transfer the case to the District of Wyoming where a challenge to the rule was pending. 07/26/2017 Motion Download Motion to transfer filed by federal defendants. On July 26, the federal defendants moved to transfer the cases to the District of Wyoming, arguing that a transfer would be in the interests of justice because it would conserve judicial resources and prevent inconsistent judgments and that the Wyoming forum was also more convenient. 07/26/2017 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Motion for summary judgment filed by states. On July 26, 2017, the states filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Administrative Procedure Act did not authorize postponement of compliance states after the effective date for regulations had passed and that the postponement notice violated notice-and-comment requirements. The states also argued that BLM’s justification for postponement was arbitrary and capricious. 07/05/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. California, New Mexico, and Conservation and Tribal Groups Challenged Postponement of Compliance Dates for BLM’s Methane Waste Rule. Two lawsuits were filed in the federal district court for the Northern District of California challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) postponement of compliance dates for its “Waste Prevention Rule,” which set requirements to prevent the venting, flaring, or leaking of natural gas, including methane, on public and tribal lands. The Waste Prevention Rule went into effect in January 2017, and the notice of the postponement was published on June 15, 2017. The notice said “serious questions” had been raised regarding some of the rule’s provisions and that postponement would preserve the regulatory status quo while litigation was pending (in the District of Wyoming) and while the Interior Department reviewed and reconsidered the rule. One lawsuit was filed by California and New Mexico; the other lawsuit was filed by conservation and tribal groups.
Sierra Club v. Zinke
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/27/2017 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Motion for summary judgment filed by conservation and tribal groups. The conservation and tribal groups filed a motion for summary judgment on July 27. Like the states, the groups argued that the Secretary of the Interior lacked authority to stay compliance dates for an already-effective rule and that he could not alter the compliance dates without notice-and-comment rulemaking. 07/10/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed.