NRDC Sues Trump Administration for Rolling Back Safeguards Against Pollution on Public Lands

The rule protects our climate from powerful greenhouse gases and people from toxic pollution.

The rule protects our climate from powerful greenhouse gases and people from toxic pollution.

Following the Trump administration’s recent rollback of critical protections against methane pollution on America’s public lands, NRDC and a coalition of nearly 20 conservation and tribal citizen groups are taking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to court. The BLM was the second federal agency, alongside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to recently weaken rules for oil and gas companies on the unnecessary leaking, flaring, and venting of methane gas—a powerful planet-warmer and a threat to public health.

“The Trump administration will stop at nothing to block a commonsense rule that protects people from dangerous pollution,” says David Doniger, director of NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program.

According to the BLM’s own calculations, the Waste Prevention Rule—which requires oil and gas companies drilling on public and tribal lands to use proven measures to reduce methane pollution that is leaked, vented, or flared—prevents 180,000 tons of methane pollution each year; that’s the equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from nearly a million passenger vehicles. The rule also helps to protect public health by reducing smog-forming and cancer-causing air pollution. “People should not have to sacrifice their health and their children’s future for polluters with powerful friends,” Doniger says.

The oil and gas industry is the largest national emitter of methane—the second-biggest driver of climate change, with hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. Though Americans overwhelmingly support federal efforts to cut methane pollution, according to polling from the American Lung Association, the BLM’s rollback is the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration, alongside oil and gas companies, to block the Waste Prevention Rule.

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