Federal Court Reinstates Key Methane Rule, Calls Zinke’s Delay “Baseless”

The safeguard, which targets methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is now back in full effect.  


Marking another legal win in the fight against climate change, a key air pollution rule was upheld today after the Trump administration put a pause on it twice. A federal judge ruled that U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s delay of the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was “baseless” and posed significant public health risks.

The Obama-era safeguard tackles inefficiency by requiring oil and gas companies on public lands to capture leaked methane, update outdated equipment, and come up with plans to reduce waste. Inefficiency was so rampant that the wasted gas from 2009 to 2015 could've powered 6.2 million households for a year. The rule promises big returns: If fully implemented, it prevents an estimated 180,000 tons of methane emissions annually—the equivalent of taking nearly a million cars off the road.

The protection must now go back into full effect while the court proceeds to the merits of the legal challenge brought on by NRDC and partners, reducing the cancer-causing, smog-producing, and climate-changing emissions in the meantime. The battle isn’t over, as Zinke recently announced to further gut the rule—but NRDC, with our partners, will continue to fight.

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