EDF, Allies Ask Appeals Court to Suspend Wyoming Court Decision that Blocked Implementation of BLM Waste Prevention Standards

April 23, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and a coalition of national, local, and tribal public health and environmental groups are asking the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay a Wyoming judge’s decision blocking the implementation of standards that reduce the waste of natural gas on public and tribal lands.


“The Wyoming court’s decision blocks implementation of common sense protections without considering key legal factors such as the merits of the case. It will result in the waste of extensive amounts of natural gas, the release of harmful pollution, and lost economic benefits for people across the West,” said Peter Zalzal, Lead Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund. “We are asking the 10th Circuit to stay the decision while it resolves the merits of our claims.”


The groups filed the request late Friday.


On April 4, a Wyoming court ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s Waste Prevention Standards should be paused while BLM considers rescinding the standards. The Wyoming court ruling was not a decision on the merits of the Waste Prevention Rule. 


BLM’s Waste Prevention Standards require oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands to take common sense measures to reduce preventable leaks of natural gas. Between 2009 and 2015, those companies wasted enough natural gas to supply more than 6.2 million homes for an entire year. The waste of natural gas on public and tribal lands costs taxpayers millions of dollars and allows large amounts of unhealthy pollution into our air – including methane, which is a potent driver of climate change.


In his order, the Wyoming judge expressly acknowledged that his decision ignored key considerations properly weighed by courts in pausing the implementation of protections, such as the likely outcome on the merits.


The group’s request asks the 10th Circuit to issue a stay of the lower court’s stay, saying:


“The district court committed an unprecedented legal error when it indefinitely enjoined the Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule … without concluding that the regulation’s challengers had demonstrated the four prerequisites for this extraordinary remedy … Because this error irreparably harms Appellants … every day, [we] move for a stay of the district court’s Order pending appeal.” (Brief, page 1)


If the 10th Circuit stays the Wyoming judge’s order, the Waste Prevention Standards will be back in effect until the 10th Circuit decides the appeal on the merits.


The Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Clean Air Task Force, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Earthjustice, Earthworks, Environmental Law  & Policy Center, Montana Environmental Information Center, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Sierra Club, Western Environmental Law Center, Western Organization of Resource Councils, WildEarth Guardians, Wilderness Society, Wilderness Workshop, and Wyoming Outdoor Council joined EDF in the appeal.


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

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