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) BalashOvernight 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 Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West Overnight Energy: Trump plan could open Alaska's Arctic region to drilling by next summer | States sue over offshore drilling tests | Lawmakers fail to pass lands bill this year 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 TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' 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 ObamaTrump struggles to win over voters reaping economic boom Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite 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 BishopSenators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school Bureau of Land Management to move headquarters from DC to Colorado Overnight Energy: Democrats to vote on 2020 climate debate | Green groups sue to stop Keystone XL construction | States sue EPA for tougher rules on asbestos 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.