US Delays Rule on Methane Emissions From Federal Lands

The Trump administration will delay an Obama-era rule limiting emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands, it said on 7 December, a move slammed by environmentalists.

The Bureau of Land Management, an office of the Department of Interior, planned to officially suspend the rule on 8 December to “avoid imposing likely considerable and immediate compliance costs on operators for requirements that may be rescinded or significantly revised in the near future,” it said in a document to be published on 8 December.

Implementation will be delayed one year until 17 January 2019.

Energy companies say the rule, finalized at the end of the Obama administration, could cost them tens of thousands of dollars per well, and some driller groups had sued the previous administration.

The implementation deadline and substance of the rule could be changed as the Trump administration is expected to announce a new draft in coming weeks in line with its policy of maximizing fossil fuel production and dismantling regulations it says prevent job growth.

The rule targets accidental leaks and intentional venting of methane from operations on public lands, where about 9% of the country’s natural gas and 5% of its oil was produced last fiscal year. Some of its 2017 provisions have already been phased in but the majority has yet to go into effect.

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