Oil & Gas Group Sues BLM Over Venting And Flaring Rule

oil-and-gas-industry-300A group, representing energy producers in the US, is suing the Bureau of Land Management over their new rule, regulating venting and flaring on oil and natural gas operations, occurring on federal or tribal lands. The suit, filed in a US District court in Wyoming, claims that the rule exceeds the BLM’s authority, creates duplicate regulations, and conflicts with requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency. The group argues that the authority to regulate air quality was solely given to the EPA under the Clean Air Act, and with this new rule, the BLM has assumed an unauthorized role in air quality regulations. The suit claims that the flair and venting rule’s sole purpose is to improving air quality, but it has been disguised by the BLM as an attempt to reduce waste from oil and gas production facilities. The group believes that because the rule deals with air quality, the BLM does not have the authority to enforce it. While the industry is in support of capturing gas that escapes from wells and reducing waste gas, they claim that overreaching regulations like the BLM’s venting and flaring rule, are not the way to accomplish this goal. Among other things, the BLM fails to account for the steps the oil and gas industry has taken, to reduce emissions. Since 1990 the natural gas industry has reduced emissions by 21% while production during that time period increased 47%. When reached for comment, a representative from Western Energy Alliance, who is part of the group who filed the lawsuit, said that the recent election of Donald Trump had nothing to do with the timing of the filing. The group had to wait until the rule was approved by the BLM until the suit could be filed.

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