Attorney General Becerra: We Won’t Back Down in Our Defense of Commonsense Regulation for Reducing Methane Waste
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement in response to a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming striking down the Waste Prevention Rule issued by the Bureau of Land Management during the Obama Administration. The Waste Prevention Rule requires oil and natural gas producers to take cost-effective measures to cut the wasteful leakage of methane, a super pollutant up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat over a 20-year timeframe, on federal and tribal lands. In California alone, there are approximately 600 producing oil and gas leases – and 7,900 usable oil and gas wells – across more than 200,000 acres of federal land.
“Today’s decision in Wyoming is unfortunate. Nevertheless, my office remains committed to defending this commonsense regulation for reducing methane waste,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We've gone to court three times already to protect the Waste Prevention Rule against the Trump Administration's relentless attacks – and won. The fight doesn't end here. California’s communities should not have to breathe toxic air so that special interests can pad their profits.”
The Waste Prevention Rule was finalized by the Bureau of Land Management on November 18, 2016, and went into effect on January 17, 2017. The Rule applies new standards that require increased inspections to prevent leaks, prohibit venting, and phase out routine flaring. It also assesses royalties on the gas that operators allow to escape into the atmosphere, half of which are allocated to states. The Rule has significant environmental benefits, including the elimination of 175,000 tons of methane emissions annually – the equivalent of over 3 million passenger vehicles driving for one year. It would also save and put to use 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to serve over 554,000 homes for a year and generate up to $14 million in additional royalties.
Attorney General Becerra has been a staunch defender of commonsense regulations to limit emissions of the super pollutant methane. On July 15, 2020, Attorney General Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas prevailed in their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal the Waste Prevention Rule. In February 2018, the Northern District also granted an injunction undoing an earlier rulemaking to suspend key requirements of the Waste Prevention Rule after Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas and CARB filed a lawsuit in December 2017. After Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas filed a lawsuit in July 2017 challenging a BLM notice delaying key requirements of the Waste Prevention Rule, the Northern District Court ordered the Trump Administration to immediately implement the rule.
More recently, Attorney General Becerra and the California Air Resources Board led a coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the EPA's final rule gutting standards that limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry. Attorney General Becerra also co-led a multistate coalition in filing a lawsuit against the EPA for unreasonably delaying issuance of guidelines limiting methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector.