Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

A court has once again rejected the Trump administration’s effort to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal land.

“The decision,” writes Meleah Geertsma, a senior attorney with NRDC, “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry, at the expense of Americans’ health and the environment.”

The latest rebuke to the attempt to derail the Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule was delivered late Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California in response to suits filed by a number of environmental groups, as well as the states of California and New Mexico over the rule suspension.

“The BLM’s reasoning behind the Suspension Rule is untethered to evidence contradicting the reasons for implementing the Waste Prevention Rule, and so plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits,” Judge William Orrick wrote in his ruling(pdf). “They have shown irreparable injury caused by the waste of publicly owned natural gas, increased air pollution and associated health impacts, and exacerbated climate impacts.”

Orrick granted a preliminary injunction requiring the Interior Department to enforce the regulation, eliciting praise from environmental groups.

“Though they seem to think otherwise,” said Kelly Martin, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director, “Donald Trump and [Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke are not above the law. Once again, the courts are serving as a critical backstop against their reckless attempts to unravel key protections for our air, water, and climate. This ruling is a victory for our communities’ health and the climate, and we will continue to fight to hold this administration accountable and defend this critical clean air…

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