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 12/11/2017 Opposition Download Opposition filed by California and New Mexico to petitioners' briefs in support of petitions for review of final agency action. 12/11/2017 Response Download Response filed by federal respondents to petitioners' merits briefs and motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative for a stay of proceedings. 10/27/2017 Declaration Download Declaration filed by economist in support of trade groups' motion for a preliminary injunction. 10/27/2017 Declaration Download Declaration filed in support of motion for preliminary injunction by president of Western Energy Alliance. 10/27/2017 Memorandum Download Memorandum filed in support of trade groups' motion for preliminary injunction. 10/27/2017 Motion Download Motion for preliminary injunction filed by trade groups. Oil and Gas Trade Groups Again Asked Wyoming Federal Court for Preliminary Injunction of BLM's Methane Waste Rule. In late October, Western Energy Alliance and Independent Petroleum Association of America filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the lawsuit challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM’s) methane waste rule in the federal district court for the District of Wyoming. The rule requires that measures be taken, beginning in January 2018, to reduce venting and flaring from oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands. The court denied an earlier motion for a preliminary injunction in January 2017. The two trade groups contended that injunctive relief was warranted because their members were suffering “increasingly immediate and irreparable harm” as the compliance deadline approached. The trade groups also argued that the rule was unconstitutional and outside BLM’s authority, and that the balance of the equities and public interest also favored an injunction. 10/12/2017 Amicus Brief Download Amicus brief filed by American Petroleum Institute in support of petitioners. 03/21/2017 Motion to Intervene Download Memorandum filed by Texas in support of motion to intervene as petitioner. 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.