BLM suspends and delays flaring and venting rule

By Patrick C. Miller | October 09, 2017

The Bureau of Land Management announced last week in the Federal Register that it will suspend or delay parts of the flaring and venting rule, implemented last year during the Obama administration last year.

The agency said the move was part of President Donald Trump’s goal to reduce the burden of federal regulations that hinder economic growth and energy development. BLM said it needs more time to review the final rule and consider revising or rescinding its requirements. The delay will be in effect until Jan. 17, 2019.

“As we strengthen America’s energy independence, we intend to evaluate regulations to determine if they unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth or prevent job creation,” said Michael Nedd, acting BLM director. “Our proposal would give the BLM sufficient time to review the 2016 final rule and consider revising or rescinding its requirements.”

BLM reviewed the 2016 final rule as part of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Secretarial Order No. 3349, American Energy Independence, issued on March 29. The agency found that some parts of the 2016 final rule appear to be unnecessarily burdensome on industry.

“I applaud this decision and thank the Trump administration for supporting North Dakota’s energy workers,” said Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “Unfortunately, when the Senate had a chance to permanently repeal this harmful rule, only 49 had the courage to stand with working Americans. This rule will rear its ugly head the next time a Democratic President controls the White House.”

In planning for additional review of the rule, BLM determined that a temporary suspension or delay of certain requirements would avoid compliance costs on operators for requirements that may be rescinded or significantly revised in the near future. For certain requirements in the 2016 final rule that have yet to be implemented, the proposed rule would temporarily postpone the implementation dates until January 17, 2019. 

For certain requirements in the 2016 final rule that are currently in effect, the proposed rule would temporarily suspend their effectiveness, also until January 17, 2019.  This gives BLM sufficient time to review the 2016 final rule and consider revising or rescinding its requirements. During this time, existing federal, state and tribal regulations will ensure energy development is done in an environmentally sound, safe and responsible manner, according to the agency.

BLM’s proposal supports the administration’s priorities requiring agencies to seek ways to reduce the costs of regulatory compliance and that require the secretary to review four specific rules, including the BLM’s 2016 final rule on waste prevention. Public comments on the proposed rule are due to the bureau on or before Nov. 6, 2017.