Trump regulators trigger pollution fight

The fight over former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump regulators trigger pollution fight Manatt snags Jack Quinn Poll: Bush, Obama popular in retirement MORE’s methane agenda has moved to the courts. 

The Trump administration last week took two major steps toward wiping a pair of Obama-era methane pollution rules off the books. 

Environmental groups have sued to stop President Trump from nixing the rules, though the oil and gas industry has stepped up to defend the administration’s actions. 

Taken together, observers expect a raucous, lengthy legal fight over the standards, which were a key part of Obama’s climate change agenda.

“I expect at every step, we’ll be sued by the environmental groups,” said Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the industry-funded Western Energy Alliance, which wants to end the methane regulations.

Two agencies with jurisdiction over methane pollution said this week that they would delay the standards established by the Obama administration while they move to reconsider — and likely rewrite or repeal — the rules.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed delaying several aspects of its methane emissions rule for two years while reconsidering the measure, which sets emissions standards at drilling sites.

The next day, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it would propose delaying compliance dates for its methane rule, which is due to impact drillers operating on federal lands by next January.

Green groups have already sued over the EPA’s decision, and lawyers say they expect to file suit against Interior as well.

Rewriting the methane rules was a key component of Trump’s energy platform during his presidential campaign, and an executive order in March directed the agencies to begin the process.

Environmentalists have dug in, vowing they will fight any effort to overturn the strict limits Obama set on methane leaks and flaring.

But the first legal skirmish over the methane…

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