Interior methane rule: Climate solution or lawsuit magnet?

By Heather Richards | 03/28/2024 06:33 AM EDT

The oil and gas industry is reviewing a regulation that aims to curb emissions of the greenhouse gas from drilling on public lands.

Gas flaring on public lands.

Gas flaring on public lands in North Dakota is shown. Matthew Brown/AP

The Interior Department’s long-awaited final methane rule is teeing up a potential legal fight even as environmentalists say it is critical to addressing climate change.

The plan, which sets limits on emissions of the greenhouse gas on public lands, is being closely examined by oil and gas groups, which successfully axed a previous Bureau of Land Management methane rule in federal court for veering into air quality regulations overseen by EPA.

BLM says the rule will bring in $50 million per year in added natural gas revenue. It makes oil companies pay royalties on “wasted” methane and caps the amount of gas they can release or burn off due to lack of pipelines. It could also hamper drilling approvals for companies that don’t prove they can minimize releases of the gas, which has about 80 times the heat-trapping capability of carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years.


“This rule represents a common sense, fair, and equitable solution to preventing waste that provides a level playing field for all of our energy-producing communities,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement Wednesday.