The Department of the Interior has unveiled its final rule for flaring natural gas produced on federal lands as part of the agency’s last-minute attempt to finish a slew of regulations before President Barack Obama leaves office.
Interior’s rule aims to reduce flaring or venting of natural gas being pulled out of federal lands and clarifies when companies have to pay the government when flaring gas.
It’s part of Obama’s push to meet his pledge to the United Nations to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 as part of the Paris global warming agreement — an agreement President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to “cancel” when taking office.
“With the Trump presidency just months away, President Obama is frantically trying to impose his climate agenda on the American people,” Tom Pyle, president of the free-market Institute for Energy Research, said in a statement.
The oil and gas industry has already sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over the flaring rule, arguing it’s duplicative and unnecessary. Environmentalists, on the other hand, welcomed the rule as a way to fight global warming.
“These safeguards will help ensure our public lands are managed in the public’s interest. Today’s action reaffirms the fact that it is imperative for our government to enact common-sense safeguards to protect the future of America and its public lands,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
The Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America sued BLM over the rule Tuesday. The plaintiffs argued companies drilling on public lands already have to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air regulations, and BLM’s new rule contradicts current standards.