California Sides With BLM on Flaring Rule

California and New Mexico have asked a federal court to allow them to join a lawsuit over a final rule issued by the Interior Department that reduces venting and flaring from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands.

The states support the position of the Department’s Bureau of Land Management, putting them in opposition to the stance taken by Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, which in November filed the lawsuit opposing the rule in the U.S. District Court in Wyoming and seeking an injunction against its implementation by the BLM.

California and New Mexico argued that the other three states failed to demonstrate that they would be irreparably harmed by the rule, and disagreed with the other states’ argument that the BLM lacks the authority to issue the rule and that the rule is preempted by the Clean Air Act.

The Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which had filed their own lawsuit against the BLM, opposed the request by California and New Mexico. The lawsuit by the WEA and IPAA was later combined with the one filed by the three states.

A hearing on the injunction request is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2017.

The BLM’s rule, to be implemented in stages, would require oil and gas producers to reduce flaring by 50% at oil wells on public and tribal lands. They would also have to halt vents and leaks from wells, equipment and storage tanks.

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