District Court Vacates Obama-Era Methane Regulations

On October 8, 2020, Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court of the District of Wyoming issued an order vacating Obama-era regulations of methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands. The court held that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has authority under the Mineral Leasing Act to curb natural gas waste, but it does not have authority to regulate air emissions. The court explained that BLM exceeded its authority because the challenged rule’s “primary purpose [is] driven by an effort to regulate air emissions, particularly greenhouse gases.” The rule has been the subject of a number of administrative and legal challenges, and it is likely that supporters of the rule, including several states and environmental groups, will consider appealing Thursday’s order.