Oil & Gas Struggling To Comply With Obama-era Methane Regulations

Apr 3, 2018

A gas flare, used to burn off flammable gas -- on Highway 59 from Gillette
Credit Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Oil and gas advocacy groups said companies are struggling to comply with newly in effect methane regulations. The Obama-era rule aims to reduce leaks and greenhouse gas emissions and has faced several roll-back attempts from the Trump Administration. But in February, a California court refused to postpone the rule, putting it back into effect.

That was unexpected to groups like the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance who have requested a preliminary injunction from the Wyoming District Court. WEA President Kathleen Sgamma said oil and gas companies should have had more time to prepare for compliance with the Waste Prevention Rule. 

“Just saying, ‘we’re supposed to have a year, that’s how the rule was written, but we’re only going to give you now six months and suddenly we’re going to put it in place immediately,’ that’s just not practical,” she said.

Sgamma added that the issue with timing doesn’t come down to getting technology in place, but getting through the red tape.

"Many companies are already doing this type of activity, they’re just not documenting and proving to the federal government that they’re doing it, and doing so takes time,” she said. 

The Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Mary Flanderka said she’s frustrated with the request for an injunction. She said companies should already have the paperwork at hand proving emission reduction efforts. “It’s not rocket science,” Flanderka said. 

The Bureau of Land Management put out a new version of the Waste Prevention Rule for public comment. It would remove several requirements strengthened under Obama. The comment period closes April 23. The Wyoming District Court could respond to the request as soon as this week.