Methane regulation hotly contested

Last year Obama finalized new regulations on methane capture that would require oil and gas producers to better manage the expulsion of environmentally harmful methane gases from their extraction processes. However, before the rule could come into effect the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) postponed it’s implementation until 2019, giving the BLM more time to review the benefits and deficits of the regulation. This decision resulted in push back and outrage from environmentally concerned groups who believe the policy rollback is not only senseless, but a clear indication of the government prioritizing the country’s financial well-being over citizen health.

In reality, the Trump led government has yet to be convinced that environmental issues like methane regulation are as threatening as many make them out to be. As a result, they see informing policy with environmental concerns as a “significant regulatory burden that encumbers American energy production, economic growth and job creation,” according to the Interior. While many thought the BLM’s decision to postpone regulation was the end of the matter, it turns out that it was only the beginning.

In response to postponing regulation, California U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte ruled the Interior had failed to provide a “reasoned explanation” for the delay and ordered the entirety of the rule reinstated effective immediately. However, provided with further analysis on why the Obama era regulation is faulty, the delay could still be enacted.

Oil and gas officials and producers seem divided on whether the regulation is necessary. Some industry leaders, like ExxonMobil, have decided to regulate their methane emissions regardless of government’s final decision. The court’s rebuttal of regulation delay means the original compliance date for methane regulation of January 2018 is back into effect. But knowing that Trump era government are in favor of delaying the initiative, whatever happens next concerning the issue is anyone’s guess.

Written by: Chris Stomberg

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