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Federal Court blocks BLM ‘unlawful’ delay of Obama methane leak rule.

October 31, 2017

On October 4, 2017 a federal court ruled that the Trump administration broke the law when it tried this summer to delay an Obama administration rule related to methane released through oil and natural gas drilling according to a report from The Hill.

Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the District Court for the Northern District of California said the Interior Department cannot use a provision in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to delay the rule on methane emissions on federal land, as it tried to do in June. It means that for now, the January 2018 compliance date for the rule is in effect.

The Interior Department’s June delay tried to push the compliance date off until pending lawsuits against it are resolved. But the Trump administration is also working to repeal or revise the rule, so the delay would have given officials room to do that.

The October 4 ruling is at least the third time that federal courts have dinged the Trump administration for trying to delay a regulation that had already taken effect, but for which the compliance date had not yet passed.

In the case decided October 4, the agency’s Bureau of Land Management tried to argue that since it is allowed to postpone the “effective date” of a rule, it can also postpone the “compliance date,” which is in January 2018.

“Effective and compliance dates have distinct meanings,” the judge wrote, noting that the rule became effective in January 2017, under the Obama administration, but companies did not have to comply for a year.

“Not only is this argument contrary to the plain language of the statute, but it collapses the clear statutory distinction between the two periods before and after a rule takes effect,” she said, declaring the delay to be “unlawful” and overturning it.

What this means to you
A federal court ruled the Trump administration broke the law when it tried this summer to delay an Obama administration rule related to methane released through oil and natural gas drilling. For now, the January 2018 compliance date for the rule is in effect.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine emission solutions in oil and gas applications.