The Trump administration is appealing an October federal court decision that found it was “unlawful” to delay an Obama administration rule limiting methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling on federal land.
Justice Department attorneys, representing the Interior Department, filed a brief notice in the District Court for the Northern District of California late Monday, saying they are asking the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to review and overturn the ruling.
In the October decision, Judge Elizabeth Laporte said the Interior Department acted improperly when it tried to push back the January deadline for oil and natural gas companies to comply with the requirements of the Obama rule.
Agencies are allowed to delay the “effective date” of a regulation, but not the “compliance date,” Laporte said. The “effective date” was January 2017, and had already passed by the time Interior tried to implement its new delay, though companies did not have to comply for a year.
“Effective and compliance dates have distinct meanings,” she said.
“Not only is this argument contrary to the plain language of the statute, but it collapses the clear statutory distinction between the two periods before and after a rule takes effect,” she wrote, declaring the delay to be “unlawful” and overturning it.
The case had come about after Democratic state attorneys general and environmental groups sued Interior.
The Trump administration is separately working to repeal the methane rule entirely.