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Amicus Brief on Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Waste Prevention Rule, enacted on November 18, 2016, sought to prevent oil and gas companies from wasting natural gas produced on public land. In June 2017, BLM stayed the rule by indefinitely postponing key compliance deadlines. In response, the states of California and New Mexico as well as several environmental organizations filed suit against BLM in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In our amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, we argue that BLM failed to provide a reasoned explanation for the stay, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act, because BLM ignored the forgone benefits of the Waste Prevention Rule. First, BLM highlighted cost savings as the primary justification for the stay, but ignored the forgone benefits. This type of lopsided analysis is clearly irrational, as court rulings have shown in the past. Second, BLM relied on the Waste Prevention Rule’s benefits to justify issuing the rule in the first place. We argue that BLM cannot now ignore those facts when staying the deadlines, and that the stay should be vacated.