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PNS Daily Newscast - May 23, 2018 


The Mueller probe lands another cooperating witness. Also on the rundown: The GAO gives a green light for CHIP cuts; and hurricane experts say – don’t let down guard down.

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Supporters of Methane Waste Rule File Multiple Suits

Implementation of the methane waste rule would lead to an estimated $800 million in taxpayer royalties over the next 10 years. (Environmental Defense Fund)
Implementation of the methane waste rule would lead to an estimated $800 million in taxpayer royalties over the next 10 years. (Environmental Defense Fund)
December 20, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY - Two new lawsuits have been filed in federal court to stop the Trump administration from deep sixing rules meant to reduce pollution, fight climate change and preserve public resources.

A dozen conservation groups and the state attorneys general of California and New Mexico filed suit on Tuesday to reinstate the methane waste rule, which would force oil and gas companies to install equipment to capture excess methane gas at their wells instead of venting it or burning it off.

The Bureau of Land Management suspended the rule until January 2019, arguing that it is too big a burden on industry.

Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, says Colorado already has similar requirements and the companies have complied without a problem.

"These measures in some ways pay for themselves because the industry actually, by putting in sensible measures, they capture more of the methane – and the methane is fuel that they can then sell,” he states. “It will certainly increase royalties for taxpayers."

This rule has survived several attempts to thwart it. First Congress rejected an attempt to roll it back using the Congressional Review Act.

Then the BLM tried to suspend it administratively, but was stopped in court.

Now clean air advocates are hoping the judge will grant an injunction forcing the companies to comply starting this January.

Murphy says methane gas is a super pollutant that has 87 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide over the short term, which harms human health and the environment.

"And it's fueling climate change, which is causing sea level rise,” he stresses. “It's causing habitat degradation. It's causing trout streams to warm.

“Climate change right now is one of the biggest threats to wildlife."

The Department of the Interior reports that in 2014, oil and gas companies wasted enough gas to supply 1.5 million households for a year.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - UT