Court Hears Arguments in Challenge to Secretary Zinke’s Suspension of Waste Prevention Rule

EDF, Allies Fight for Standards that Prevent Waste and Reduce Pollution on Public and Tribal Lands

February 15, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(February 15, 2018) EDF joined other conservation and tribal citizen groups in district court yesterday to try to stop the waste of a valuable resource.

The groups sought to block Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s efforts to suspend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule, which requires oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands to take common-sense actions to reduce preventable leaks and flaring of methane, the primary component of natural gas.

“We presented a detailed case to the court arguing that Secretary Zinke’s action to suspend the Waste Prevention Rule is unlawful and is causing immediate and irreparable harm to communities and families across the West,” said EDF Lead Attorney Peter Zalzal. “Suspending the rule puts more dangerous pollution into the air, including smog-forming volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing benzene, and it costs communities and tribes money needed for schools and roads.”

By reducing the waste of natural gas, BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule also reduces emissions of methane, which is a potent driver of climate change, and other unhealthy pollutants. Between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas companies wasted enough natural gas on federal and tribal lands to supply more than 6.2 million homes for an entire year.

The Trump Administration has tried repeatedly to suspend the Waste Prevention Rule. Their earlier efforts were rejected by both the courts and Congress.

Yesterday’s oral argument was in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The court heard EDF and allies’ challenge to Secretary Zinke’s decision in December 2017 to issue a rule delaying implementation of the Waste Prevention Rule until January of 2019. The states of California and New Mexico have likewise challenged Zinke’s suspension, and the parties are asking the court to take swift action to block it.

Separately, Secretary Zinke proposed this week to rescind many of the same protections that he previously sought to suspend. BLM will accept public comments on that proposal for 60 days.

EDF was joined in court yesterday by the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, Montana Environmental Information Center, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Wilderness Workshop, Wildearth Guardians, and Wyoming Outdoor Council, as well as by the Attorneys General of California and New Mexico.

You can find more information – including all legal documents – on EDF’s website.

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