On Thursday, February 22, 2018 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California overturned the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s delay of compliance for the 2016 Venting and Flaring Rule designed to restrict methane emissions.
A Little Background
The “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” federal rule established requirements to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities on onshore Federal and Indian leases. The initial compliance date for the majority of requirements was January 17, 2018.
Last year, the Department of Interior finalized a delay in the rule until January 2019, arguing it was unnecessary and burdensome to the industry. In the meantime, the BLM aimed to re-evaluate the rule to develop an appropriate revision, and published a proposed rule on February 22.
A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to reinstate the 2016 methane emissions regulation based on BLM’s lack of justification to postpone core provisions of the rule. In addition, the judge did not accept a motion to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court of Wyoming.
This is the second time the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has blocked efforts to sideline a methane rule (the other instance was a deferral of NSPS OOOOa).
What It Means
The new ruling means that the Venting and Flaring Rule is once again in effect and the original compliance requirements actively apply. The most notable requirements include compliance for leak detection inspections and the submission of a Waste Minimization Plan with Applications for Permit to Drill. Trihydro previously prepared a summary of the rule requirements, which can be accessed here. You can also click here to view the 2016 final rule.
Contact our air compliance experts with questions about the rule and which steps you should be considering now
Jay Christopher, Senior Air Specialist
Calvin Niss, Senior Vice President
Air and Process Services