SAN FRANCISCO—The Natural Resources Defense Council and coalition of nearly 20 conservation and tribal citizen groups today sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over its rollback of commonsense protections that stop the unnecessary leaking of climate change-fueling and health-harming air pollution from oil and gas operations on America’s public lands. The states of California and New Mexico have also filed suit.
“The Trump administration will stop at nothing to block a common-sense rule that protects people from dangerous pollution,” said David Doniger. “People should not have to sacrifice their health and their children’s future for polluters with powerful friends.”
The Waste Prevention Rule requires oil and gas companies drilling on public and tribal lands nationwide to use common-sense, proven measures that reduce methane and other harmful pollution that is leaked, vented or flared. BLM’s unlawful rollback of these protections will result in emissions of 180,000 tons of methane pollution each year—equivalent to annual heat-trapping pollution from nearly 850,000 cars.
NRDC filed the lawsuit jointly with Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, The Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, Montana Environmental Information Center, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Western Organization of Resource Councils, WildEarth Guardians, Wilderness Workshop and Wyoming Outdoor Council.
The move is the latest in a series of attempts by the oil and gas industry and the Trump administration to block the rule. Last month, the Trump administration also proposed rolling back EPA’s methane rules for oil and gas operations on private lands.
The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial emitter of methane, which is the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide. Leaking oil and gas facilities also release smog-forming and cancer-causing chemicals that trigger asthma attacks and increase cancer risks for people living nearby.
Americans overwhelmingly support federal efforts to cut methane pollution, according to polling from the American Lung Association.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.