With the Senate expected this week to take up measures that would revoke late-term Obama administration regulations, North Dakota’s leading business group has joined Western lawmakers in urging the repeal of a rule targeting oil and natural gas development on federal lands.

The methane regulation, finalized by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after the 2016 election, has been controversial across the West. Three states – Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota – have sued to stop the “venting and flaring” rule. Western leaders, from members of Congress to tribes, business groups and local elected officials, are also leading an effort to repeal the methane regulation using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House passed a CRA resolution disapproving the rule in a 221-191 vote on Feb. 3.

“The BLM is one of many agencies that ignored local conditions and/or expertise and passed rules that made sense for those inside the beltway but not to those in the field,” said Andy Peterson, president of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, in a comment emailed to Western Wire.

Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (photo credit: Greater North Dakota Chamber).

“North Dakota suffered under the Obama administration,” Peterson continued. “Rules were passed with little regard for local expertise or conditions. As a result we view many of the rollbacks as good for North Dakota.”

Overturning the BLM “venting and flaring” rule is part of a broader effort to roll back regulations imposed during the final days of the Obama administration, which includes a federal land planning policy.

“We are hoping Senator Heitkamp, as a conservative Democrat and one who understands the energy industry, will vote with us,” said Peterson.

Peterson’s comments follow a Feb. 2 letter that the chamber, along with business groups across the country, sent to Congress, urging members to support the resolution to “eliminate the Obama Administration’s lame-duck finalization of BLM’s ‘venting and flaring’ regulation.”

“Unfortunately, under the guise of reducing methane emissions and increasing government royalties, BLM’s 11th hour regulatory action imposes costly and prescriptive requirements on oil and natural gas production that will make energy development uneconomical in many areas,” the groups wrote.

“Ultimately, this regulation handcuffs the energy revolution, makes us more dependent on foreign sources of energy, and translates to higher costs for families and businesses,” they said.


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