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Environmental Groups Seek to Defend BLM Methane Rule

Natural Gas Flaring in Rural North Dakota
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

Environmental groups are petitioning a federal judge in Wyoming to intervene in legal challenges against the Bureau of Land Management’s new rule limiting natural gas waste on public lands.

Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota filed suit against the federal rule shortly after it was announced in November, arguing the BLM lacks authority over air quality issues and claiming the rule would reduce state revenues.

But Bill Midcap with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union thinks the BLM struck the right balance between protecting public health and helping industry operate more efficiently.

“We are not in favor of shutting down the oil industry, at all,” said Midcap.  “These oil companies supply rural areas with jobs, jobs that are much needed in rural areas. It is vital to our state’s economy.”

Some congressional Republicans, including U.S. Senator John Barrasso, have vowed to reverse the rule, which would go into effect days before President Obama leaves office.

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