WEA, IPAA seek injunction against BLM venting, flaring rule

The Western Energy Alliance and Independent Petroleum Association of America jointly sought injunctive relief for their members from impending compliance dates in January under the US Bureau of Land Management’s venting and flaring rule.

The Western Energy Alliance and Independent Petroleum Association of America jointly sought injunctive relief for their members from impending compliance dates in January under the US Bureau of Land Management’s venting and flaring rule. Their filing came in an Oct. 27 motion in US District Court for Wyoming against the US Department of Justice’s request for a delay in the groups and three states’ lawsuit challenging the rule.

“The twists and turns of this case have been a bit confusing to anyone watching the legal maneuvering,” WEA Pres. Kathleen Sgamma said in Denver.

“Our preliminary injunction request is necessary to ensure companies do not have to comply with a rule that is being completely rewritten by the agency,” Sgamma said. “BLM is trying to do the right thing by suspending the rule through a full rulemaking process, but we cannot be sure that it will get that suspension done in time.”

In Washington, Daniel T. Naatz, IPAA’s senior vice-president of government relations and political affairs, said, “While we applaud this step from BLM, our member companies need to know what rules they will be operating under in just a few months’ time.”

Naatz said, “The timing for our member companies to make business decisions on the final rule is fast approaching, and it makes little sense for companies to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare for compliance with a rule that will inevitably change under the Trump administration.”

The US Department of the Interior agency 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 was scheduled to appear in the Oct. 5 Federal Register, will be accepted through Nov. 6 (OGJ Online, Oct. 4, 2017).

BLM issued the rule, which went into effect in January, in November 2016, and WEA and IPAA immediately sued (OGJ Online, Nov. 16, 2016). US District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl denied an earlier injunction request by WEA, IPAA, and the states of Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana in mid-January when he ruled the plaintiffs were not being harmed irreparably (OGJ Online, Jan. 17, 2017).

As estimated by economics consulting firm John Dunham & Associates, producers are incurring $115 million in costs to comply with the rule by Jan. 18, 2018, which is more than sufficient to show irreparable harm, WEA and IPAA said in their joint motion.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

More in General Interest