Oil and gas operations burn off enormous quantities of natural gas each year.
The department is expected to announce a new draft rule in the next few weeks that could revise the existing regulation or rescind it entirely.
In response, The Wilderness Society released the following statement from Chase Huntley, Energy & Climate Program Director:
“It is inexcusable that BLM is suspending this rule without putting a new rule in place, because it means that the federal government has decided to leave oversight of methane waste and pollution to the states for the indefinite future. Unfortunately, the states have not collectively taken strong action to date, and the oil and gas industry has shown that it cannot self-regulate.
“This is one more way President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are handing management of our public lands over to the special interests they consider their primary constituents, and it demonstrates the lengths to which they’ll go to gut land, water, and climate protections to help oil and gas companies make a quick buck. It’s a horrible deal for American taxpayers.”
BLM’s rule, which was finalized in November and went into effect in January, was created to cut the waste of natural gas owned by the American people through both accidental leaks and intentional venting and flaring. More than $330 million in natural gas is wasted each year on public lands.
The rule was the result of multiple years of work, 330,000 public comments, and eight public forums. It was created to address the concerns of independent government oversight agencies that BLM was not meeting its legislative mandate to prevent the waste of taxpayer-owned resources.