The Bureau of Land Management’s hydraulic fracturing rule, the subject of legal wrangling by environmental and industry groups and currently under review by Trump administration officials for complete rescission, will continue to be on hold for a few more weeks. A September decision by the appeals court threw out a lower court’s determination that the BLM lacks authority to regulate fracking, moving up the possible implementation of the rule this month. But industry trade associations and four Western states asked the court to postpone vacating the lower court ruling to allow the administration to complete its rule rescission.
Tracking and compliance efforts by oil and gas companies in New Mexico have documented methane emissions dropping by more than 50 percent in just the last year, state regulators told New Mexico lawmakers last week. Oil and gas companies are following through on reporting requirements for methane released, as regulators found just 56 instances of where operators failed to report data in the past year, out of 60,000 active wells tracked each month, or 0.0009 percent of wells.
Gov. John Hickenlooper applauded the appointment of Colorado’s top public health regulator and physician to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Friday, calling the move a “terrific opportunity.” Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Chief Medical Officer for the state of Colorado will join Dr. Tony Cox, the board’s new chair, and Dr. James Boylan on the seven-member panel. Cox is an independent expert in qualitative risk analysis, and Boylan is a regulator with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
The District Court of Wyoming granted a request by the Department of Justice to delay briefings in the case against the Bureau of Land Management’s venting and flaring rule, despite opposition from Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). Critics of the venting and flaring rule say it is costly and unnecessary. The industry group’s court filings indicate the rule will impose $115 million in costs between now and the January 17, 2018 compliance deadline.
Three Western governors discussed a wide range of energy-related topics Tuesday, acknowledging the need for regulatory flexibility at the federal level and embracing technology as a way to avoid the false choice between a clean environment and using the energy resources each state possessed. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, joined Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, to outline how states could work together on energy issues from production to transmission, and to calling for more state primacy on regulation and streamlining federal permitting processes that hold up energy development in their states.
Two Western health experts—Dr. Larry Wolk and Dr. Tony Cox—will be appointed to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt later today, Western Wire has learned. Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Chief Medical Officer for the state of Colorado, will join Cox, President of Cox Associates and an expert specializing in quantitative risk analysis, and Dr. James Boylan, Manager for the Air Protection Branch of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, on the CASAC committee.
More than 80 members of the U.S. House sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice asking for a review of legislation and prosecutorial action covering attacks on the country’s pipeline infrastructure. Led by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), the letter seeks DOJ input on the adequacy of federal statutes like the Patriot Act and Pipeline Safety Act in allowing the department to “prosecute criminal activity against energy infrastructure at the federal level.”