Flaring natural gas (mostly methane) that will be separated from oil at a 2014 well site in North Dakota. Photo by Jeffrey Peischl, CIRES
Oct 10, 2020 – SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the following statement Thursday in response to a U.S. District Court decision for the Wyoming County to dispose of the waste Prevention rule issued by the Bureau of Land Management during the Obama administration. The waste prevention rule mandates that oil and natural gas producers must take cost-effective measures to reduce wasteful leakage of methane, a super pollutant that is up to 87 times more effective than carbon dioxide at storing heat over a 20 year period, federally and tribal lands. In California alone, there are approximately 600 producing oil and gas leases – and 7,900 usable oil and gas wells – in more than 200,000 acres of state.
“Today's decision in Wyoming is unfortunate. Even so, my office is still keen to defend these sensible methane waste reduction rules. " said Attorney General Becerra. “We have already gone to court three times to protect the waste prevention rule from relentless attacks by the Trump administration – and we have won. The fight doesn't end here. California communities shouldn't have to inhale toxic air for special interests to grow their profits. "
The waste prevention rule was finalized by the Bureau of Land Management on November 18, 2016 and came into effect on January 17, 2017. The rule applies new standards that require intensified inspections to prevent leakage, prohibit venting, and stop routine flaring. It also evaluates royalties on the gas that operators release into the atmosphere, half of which is allocated to states. The rule has significant environmental benefits, including eliminating 175,000 tonnes of methane emissions per year – the equivalent of more than 3 million passenger cars driving for a year. It would also save and consume 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to serve over 554,000 homes a year and generate additional license fees of up to $ 14 million.
Attorney General Becerra was a staunch advocate of the Commonsense regulations to limit emissions of the super pollutant methane. On July 15, 2020, Attorney General Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas prevailed against the Trump administration's attempt to lift the waste prevention rule in their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In February 2018, the Northern District also issued an injunction repealing an earlier rule suspending key requirements of the waste prevention rule after Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas and CARB filed a lawsuit in December 2017. After Attorney General Becerra and Balderas filed a lawsuit in July 2017, the Northern District Court urged the Trump Administration to immediately implement the BLM notice to postpone key requirements of the waste prevention rule.
More recently, Attorney General Becerra and the California Air Resources Board launched a coalition to file a lawsuit against the EPA's final rules to exempt rules that modified the emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified pollutants Institutions in the EU limit the oil and gas industry. Attorney General Becerra also led a multi-state coalition in filing a lawsuit against the EPA for inappropriately delaying issuance of guidelines to limit methane emissions from existing wells in the oil and gas sector.
Source: CA. DOJ