BLM proposes suspending implementation of venting and flaring rule

The US Bureau of Land Management proposed a temporary suspension or delay of certain requirements in its 2016 oil and gas methane venting and flaring rule until Jan. 27, 2019. Comments on the proposal, which is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 5 Federal Register, will be accepted through Nov. 7.

The US Bureau of Land Management proposed a temporary suspension or delay of certain requirements in its 2016 oil and gas methane venting and flaring rule until Jan. 27, 2019. Comments on the proposal, which is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 5 Federal Register, will be accepted through Nov. 7.

Officially known as the Methane Waste and Prevention Rule, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance—along with the states of Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana—legally challenged it in federal court soon after the rule became final on Nov. 18, 2016. The case now is pending in US District Court for Wyoming.

The plaintiffs essentially argued that BLM exceeded its authority by imposing regulation of airborne emissions that falls under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s purview. BLM contended that its authority includes controlling and regulating the waste of federal resources, which it said was the rule’s purpose.

BLM reviewed the 2016 final rule as part of Sec. of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s Secretarial Order No. 3349, American Energy Independence, which he issued on Mar. 29. The agency found that some parts of it appear to be unnecessarily burdensome on the oil and gas industry. “Our proposal would give BLM sufficient time to review the 2016 final rule and consider revising or rescinding its requirements,” Acting Director Michael D. Nedd said on Oct. 4.

As it prepared to review the rule further, BLM said it determined that a temporary suspension or delay of some requirements would avoid making operators pay costs to comply with requirements that may be rescinded or significantly revised in the near future.

The proposal would suspend requirements that already are in effect and postpone implementation of requirements that are not until Jan. 27, 2019, while the agency conducts its additional review. “During this time, existing federal, state, and tribal regulations will ensure energy development is done in an environmentally sound, safe and responsible manner,” BLM said.

Representatives of IPAA and WEA told OGJ on Oct. 4 that officials from their respective organizations were studying BLM’s proposal before issuing comments.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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