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California v. Bureau of Land Management

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20029
Nos. 17-cv-07186, -07187, (N.D. Cal., 02/22/2018) (Orrick, J.)

A district court enjoined BLM from suspending or delaying the requirements of its waste prevention rule, which was issued to reduce emissions of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and gas production activities on onshore federal land. The rule went into effect on January 17, 2017, with many of its requirements to be phased in by January 17, 2018. But after taking office, the President ordered BLM to review the rule, and BLM ultimately issued a suspension rule to delay for one year the effective date of the provisions of the rule that had not yet become operative and suspend for one year the effectiveness of certain provisions already in effect. Several states and groups sought a preliminary injunction, and the district court ruled in their favor. BLM’s reasoning behind the suspension rule is "untethered" to evidence contradicting the reasons for implementing the waste prevention rule. Plaintiffs, therefore, are likely to prevail on the merits. The plaintiffs also demonstrated irreparable injury caused by the waste of publicly owned natural gas, increased air pollution and associated health impacts, and exacerbated climate impacts. The court, therefore, issued a preliminary injunction requiring BLM to fully enforce the waste prevention rule. The court also denied BLM's motion to transfer venue.