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Administration Rolls Back Methane Pollution Regulation

Administration Rolls Back Methane Pollution Regulation

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently finalized a new rule regarding methane pollution standards for drillers on public lands. The regulation replaces one implemented under the Obama administration, easing methane regulatory and monitoring requirements. The new regulation brings emission standards back to a similar level that had been in place for roughly 30 years prior to being changed under the Obama administration.

“This is really about fulfilling our commitments to the policy vision that the president has established,” David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the Interior Department recently stated. He further explained that the president had instructed the Interior Department to review the standards in place, as well as any others that “unduly burden” the development of domestic energy resources. Kate MacGregor, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Interior Department, also noted that these new measures would help the industry avoid expensive and duplicative measures, summarizing the new regulations as “smart regulations that harness domestic energy production but do so responsibly.”

The announcement has been received with both criticism and applause. Shortly following announcement of this new rule, California and New Mexico Attorney Generals Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Hector Balderas (D-NM) sued the Interior Department in California federal court, arguing that officials didn’t adequately justify the rollback and that the new regulation doesn’t meet the government’s legal obligations.

However, many in industry support the new measure. “The [old] B.L.M. rule could have taken a lot of wells out of service, which is counter to what we’re trying to achieve here by making our country more self-reliant and less dependent on foreign sources,” said Erik Milito, director of exploration and production with the American Petroleum Institute.

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