A federal judge in Wyoming has ruled that Obama-era rules targeting methane leaks from oil and natural gas operations on public lands are illegal, Kallanish Energy reports.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahlm, in a ruling last week, said the 2016 rule went beyond the scope of the Bureau of Land Management.
The BLM exceeded its statutory authority in setting the rules, he said.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, two oil and gas trade groups.
The 2016 rule required operators to cut flaring or burning of natural gas and to inspect for leaks and make repairs.
The Obama administration set methane limits for new and modified oil and gas infrastructure, restricted emissions of other air pollutants including volatile organic compounds and instituted regular monitoring and leak repair requirements.
The Obama administration had estimated that the rule could cut methane emissions on public lands by 35%.
The U.S. Interior Department told the media it was unlikely to appeal the latest decision.
Industry groups said they were pleased with the decision, while environmentalists expressed disappointment.
The new Trump rule is in legal limbo, too.
Last July, a federal judge in California ordered the new rule to be vacated because of inadequate work by the BLM and the 2016 rule to be reinstated, but she stayed that order for 90 days to allow the Wyoming judge to rule.
That leaves both the old and the new rules being thrown out by the courts.
The Trump administration is facing two lawsuits over its rolling back methane rules on oil and natural gas production. Twenty states, led by California, filed one suit. Eco-groups filed a second lawsuit.
Last August, the Trump administration had finally undone 2016 Obama-era rules to limit methane gas emissions from oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and other facilities.
The new rules remove requirements to control methane across the entire O&G industry including wells and pipelines. They remove limits on methane and volatile organic compounds emissions from the transmission and storage segments of the gas sector including compressor stations.
The rules also ease reporting and leak detection requirements of certain low-producing wells.
Methane, the main ingredient of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about 25% of global warming. The O&G emissions also contribute to unhealthy ozone or smog.
The onshore O&G industry is the largest source of methane in the U.S., releasing 30% of the methane, the EPA has said.
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