The Trump Administration Just Gave the Oil and Gas Industry Another Present

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced another decision catering to the fossil fuel industry. The announcement indicated that Trump, via the Interior Department, was suspending the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Rule, in a last-ditch effort to circumvent the American people’s desire to cut methane pollution and the waste of taxpayer-owned gas.

When the BLM’s Methane Waste Rule was last discussed here on Medium, it was shortly after the U.S. Senate voted to uphold the rule. That decision meant that the oil and gas industry would have to stop wasting publicly owned natural gas, instead capturing it with cheap and easily obtained equipment.

Credit: Mike Eisenfeld, WildEarth Guardians, flickr

But the Trump administration’s newly issued “stay” — the suspension of any and all enforcement of the protections within the rule — means that all of the benefits from the rule are put on hold pending a court decision that may not come until later this year.

The benefits of BLM’s Methane Waste Rule include increased revenues from the sale of captured natural gas for local communities and schools, states and the federal government; reduced air pollution; and fewer climate change-causing emissions in the atmosphere.

The oil and gas industry already lost in court once this year when it sought a postponement of the rule. The judge said that, because he did not see any potential “irreparable harm” from the rule, the rule would stay in effect.

Of course, the Trump administration is almost completely focused on kowtowing to the oil and gas industry. So, even though both the Senate and the courts have recently upheld its implementation, the administration is ruling by fiat, claiming, with dubious legal reasoning, that it can just stop a rule the oil and gas industry doesn’t like.

BLM’s Methane Waste Rule is extremely popular with the American people, who weighed in with hundreds of thousands of comments when it was being drafted, and spoke up in droves when it was under assault in Congress. This administration is clearly more concerned with catering to fossil fuel special interests than standing up for Americans — and our health.

The American people deserve both clean air and their fair share from the development of our shared resources. This administration’s assault on public lands to help the fossil fuel industry will not go unchallenged, and this particular gambit to put more toxic pollution into the air will not stand.