Montana Joins Lawsuit Challenging Federal Methane Rule
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael in filing a lawsuit in federal court Friday, challenging a newly finalized rule by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that creates duplicative regulation of methane gas venting and flaring on federal land.
The rule, titled the “Methane Waste Prevention Rule,” is promulgated under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act (FOGRMA) and the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), and attempts to classify flared, vented and leaked methane gas produced from oil and natural gas extraction as a “waste” product, regulated by BLM. However, those statutes do not provide evidence of any intention from Congress that the BLM should develop and implement air quality regulations like those issued in the methane rule.
“The bottom line is, BLM has exceeded its legal authority with this rule, and is yet another example of the Obama administration pushing the envelope to see how much they can get away with before leaving office,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Even if BLM had the authority to adopt this rule, it would have negligible environmental benefit, as it does little more than duplicate existing state standards for methane venting and flaring, while adding additional cost to industry by creating even more compliance requirements.”
The lawsuit asserts that there is no congressional authorization for BLM to create flaring and venting rules, and that the rules impermissibly intrude upon, and conflict with, existing regulation of oil and gas operations under the Clean Air Act, and the States’ Oil & Gas Conservation Acts.
The states are requesting that the court declare the rule to be legally invalid, and to enjoin its application to oil and gas operations.