Description: Challenge to United States Bureau of Land Management’s final rule concerning methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands.
Wyoming v. United States Department of Interior
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/16/2017 Order Download Order issued denying motions for preliminary injunction. Wyoming Federal Court Expressed Concerns About BLM Methane Rule But Denied Preliminary Injunction. On January 16, 2017, a Wyoming federal court declined to issue a preliminary injunction staying the effective date of the United States Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) final rule related to the reduction of waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities on federal and Indian lands. The rule went into effect on January 17, 2017. It has been identified by congressional Republicans as one of the regulations they would like to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn; the House of Representatives approved a resolution to repeal the rule on February 3, 2017. The court found that the petitioners had not shown a “clear and unequivocal right to relief” because the court was unable to conclude that the rule’s provisions “lack a legitimate, independent waste prevention purpose or are otherwise so inconsistent with the [Clean Air Act] as to exceed BLM’s authority and usurp that of the EPA, states, and tribes.” Though the court questioned whether the “social cost of methane” was an appropriate factor to consider in issuing a “resource conservation rule” pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act, the court said it could not conclude “at this point” that the rule was arbitrary and capricious. The court also found that the petitioners had not established that irreparable injury was likely. The court noted, however, that a preliminary injunction would not necessarily have been adverse to the public’s interest in resource conservation and air quality since BLM already had other waste prevention regulations in place and a preliminary injunction would “sidestep the costly implementation of duplicative and potentially unlawful regulations.” 11/28/2016 Motion Download Motion for preliminary injunction filed by states. Both sets of petitioners have asked the court for a preliminary injunction, and the court scheduled a hearing on the requests for January 6, 2017. The states argued that they would suffer “immediate sovereign and economic harm” should the rule go into effect and that BLM would experience no actual harm if the court issued a preliminary injunction. The states argued that an injunction was in the public interest because it would prevent an illegal program from taking effect and because the injunction would not harm the interest in a clean environment or cause waste of federal minerals since the states were already taking action to control emissions. 11/18/2016 Petition for Review Download Petition for review filed. States, Oil and Gas Groups Challenged BLM Methane Rule for Oil and Gas Operations. Two petitions were filed in the federal district court for the District of Wyoming challenging the United States Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule concerning methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands. BLM said that the rule would cut flaring in half, curbing waste of public resources and reducing harmful methane emissions. One petition was filed by Western Energy Alliance and Independent Petroleum Association of America; the other was filed by Wyoming and Montana. The states called the regulations “a blatant attempt by a land management agency to impose air quality regulations on existing oil and gas operations under the guise of waste prevention” and charged that BLM did not have authority to regulate. The states asserted that the regulations’ air quality controls conflicted with those established by EPA and the states under the Clean Air Act, and that the rule unlawfully attempted to take over regulation of state leases when state and federal tracts were combined through communitization agreements. The oil and gas trade groups also asserted that BLM was without authority to regulate air quality and also argued that the rule placed arbitrary limits on flaring; relied on flawed scientific, engineering, and economic assumptions and methodologies; improperly relied on EPA air quality rules; and conflicted with or usurped the primary jurisdiction of state and tribal governments. North Dakota has intervened in the state proceeding.
Western Energy Alliance v. Jewell
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/15/2016 Petition for Review Download Petition for review filed.