Trump admin proposes repealing most of Obama methane leak rule

Trump admin proposes repealing most of Obama methane leak rule
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The Trump administration is proposing to repeal most of the requirements of a 2016 rule meant to reduce wasted methane from oil and natural gas drilling on federal land.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said most of the main components of the Obama administration's rules — which require drillers to write leak-minimization plans, update equipment and detect leaks, among other actions — were overly burdensome.

Methane is both the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas.

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“In order to achieve energy dominance through responsible energy production, we need smart regulations, not punitive regulations,” Joe BalashJoseph (Joe) BalashTop Trump Interior official joins oil company in Alaska after resignation Interior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers' districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE, Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said Monday of the administration’s proposed revision.

“We believe this proposed rule strikes that balance and will allow job growth in rural America.”

The Monday action is in line with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE’s promise to slash what he sees as barriers to fossil fuel production.

Republicans and the oil and gas industry have complained since the 2016 venting and flaring rule was put in place that it is unnecessarily expensive, claiming that it's part of an anti-fossil-fuel agenda from former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Democratic race for president may not sort itself out 'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter Krystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren MORE.

The 2016 rule was part of a wide-ranging strategy by Obama to fight methane, both because of its impacts on the climate and the wastefulness of releasing it.

The BLM said Monday that much of the rule was duplicative with state laws or had a higher cost or lower benefit than previously estimated.

Under Monday’s proposal, the BLM would return to a decades-old policy that sought to minimize wasted natural gas. The agency will also retain some parts of the 2016 rule, like measuring the gas released by drillers and charging drillers for some gas released.

Industry and the GOP cheered the action.

“We are supportive of smart regulation that is effectively tailored to BLM’s authority to prevent waste and conserve resources, an objective that our industry shares,” said Erik Milito, upstream director at the American Petroleum Institute.

“We are hopeful that the new proposed rule will strengthen our nation’s energy renaissance, our economy and environmental stewardship,” he said.

“The previous administration scorned domestic energy development and crafted the prior rule to deliberately stifle it,” said Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopWalden retirement adds to GOP election woes Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden won't seek reelection MORE (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “This is a necessary step to promote investment in federal and tribal lands so that economies in the west can grow.”

The BLM will soon publish the proposal in the Federal Register. That will kick off a 60-day public comment period, after which the agency can make the revision final.