Obama-Era Methane Rules Hurdle New Challenge

WASHINGTON (CN) – After blocking the Trump administration from pausing new methane-emissions regulations covering oil and natural gas wells, the D.C. Circuit refused Thursday to reconsider that July ruling.

In a 6-3 vote, the federal appeals court rejected a petition from several oil and gas groups who wanted the full panel to hear the case en banc. U.S. Circuit Judges Janice Brown, Karen Henderson and Brett Kavanaugh were the only judges who voted to reconsider the ruling.

The oil and gas groups filed their petition to rehear the case on July 28, the same month that the D.C. Circuit struck down an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay the Obama-era methane rule, which set new standards for how oil and natural gas must prevent leaks of methane and other pollutants.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had previously announced a 90-day pause in the deadline for companies to come under compliance of the rule, later proposing to extend the stay to a full two years.

The D.C. Circuit sided with the environmental groups that challenged the stay on July 5, saying in a 2-1 decision that the Clean Air Act does not give the agency authority to put a stay in place while it voluntarily reconsiders a rule.

Brown, who wanted to rehear the case en banc, wrote a dissent from the July 5 opinion, saying the court did not have authority to hear the case because Pruitt’s stay was not a final agency decision.

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