A US district court recently granted environmental groups a preliminary injunction against a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule that suspended the compliance dates for its 2016 Waste Prevention Rule. The suspension rule, issued through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, pushed back several requirements to prevent natural gas venting and flaring on federal and American Indian lands by one year. However, the court agreed with state attorney generals and environmental groups which argued that the BLM had never provided a detailed, record-based justification as to why it now found the Waste Prevention Rule's requirements legally questionable and too costly for the purported benefits. The suspension rule's cost-benefit analysis was held to be unsupported and the court concluded that comments cited by the BLM lacked detailed factual citations. The court further agreed that staying the rule – which had never been in effect – would cause financial harm to the state plaintiffs through reduced royalties, harm public health through increased air pollution and increase climate change effects.
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