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Amicus Brief on BLM’s Repeal of Waste Prevention Rule

Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) repealed its Waste Prevention Rule, undoing crucial regulations that reduce natural gas waste from venting, flaring, and leaks. We submitted an amicus brief focusing on the problematic aspects of the repeal: BLM’s false understanding of its role in waste prevention and its faulty analysis of climate impacts.

The rollback of the Waste Prevention Rule has caused the public to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars of net benefits to health and the climate. The agency justifies the repeal arguing that it is only authorized to prevent waste when it would be economically profitable to the private operator to cut that waste. But that misunderstands the role of the agency in protecting the public from harmful waste, running counter to the economic rationale for regulation and Congressional purpose. BLM also relies on a gross miscalculation of regulatory costs and benefits. In that calculation, BLM abandons peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of methane emissions, opting instead to apply untested interim values. Though BLM justifies this approach by arguing that the untested interim values focus on the U.S. damages from methane emissions only, in reality, the interim approach ignores a number of factors that affect U.S. interests. BLM’s repeal should be vacated because it is poorly analyzed and harms the public health and welfare, without a reasoned explanation.