AG Balderas Secures Court Ruling Forcing President Trump and Secretary Zinke to Enforce BLM Methane Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2018

Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

Albuquerque, NM – Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today to that he and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a preliminary injunction against President Trump and Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, blocking their attempt to suspend the rule and forcing Zinke to implement the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule. Judge William Orrick ruled that suspension of the rule would result in irreparable harm to the environment and also result in waste of publicly owned natural gas.

“Today’s ruling confirms that President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s attempt to suspend the BLM’s methane rule is illegal and harms both our environment and New Mexican school children, who lose vital education dollars from lost royalties,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I will continue to fight for New Mexican families’ health and well-being, and to ensure that they get the all of the money they are owed from natural gas royalties.”

The BLM’s “Waste Prevention Rule” became effective January 17, 2017 and forces companies to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities on onshore Federal and Indian (other than Osage Tribe) leases. The rule was immediately challenged by the petroleum industry, and New Mexico and California intervened in the lawsuit to defend the rule. Secretary Zinke subsequently attempted to create a new rule that would suspend implementation of the waste prevention rule, and that rule was the subject of Judge Orrick’s preliminary injunction.

In his order, Judge Orrick agreed with Attorney General Balderas and Attorney General Becerra that Secretary Zinke provided no basis for suspending the rule, and that his efforts to suspend it were arbitrary and capricious. He also agreed that Attorney General Balderas and Attorney General Becerra were correct that suspension of the rule would result in irreparable harm to the environment and to the people of New Mexico and California, who lose royalty payments with the waste of methane.

A copy of Judge Orrick’s order is attached.

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