BLM Methane emissions rule will stay in place for now

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) A controversial federal rule under the Bureau of Land Management will stay in place for now.

The Obama-era regulation limits Methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. Some say the rule burdens American energy production and economic growth.

"We did not need to have the BLM moving into a regulatory domain," said Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO).

Rep. Tipton says he's disappointed that the Senate rejected efforts to roll back a regulation limiting Methane emissions from energy production sites on federal land.

"That's actually within the category of the EPA, being able to deal with it. It's actually created another area of redundant regulation, a very complex issue," Tipton said.

While the rule failed in the Senate, it passed in the House in February. Tipton said states should be responsible for regulating Methane emissions, not the federal government.

"The state of Colorado has taken it to another level as well with our state rules and regulations, those are the appropriate ways to able to be able to deal with it," Rep. Tipton said.

This was a rare win for environmentalists since President Trump took office. Three Republican Senators broke with their party to keep the rule in place.

"Our sense is that there was some very well funded special interests flushed with oil and gas money who were speaking as loudly and as often into Senator's ears as they could," said Mary Ellen Kustin with the Center for American Progress.

Kustin says keeping the rule is necessary to stop the release of natural gas into the environment.

"Methane is a dangerous pollutant that is actually a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon, it doesn't take as much Methane to do as much damage as your normal carbon emissions," she explained.

Kustin says the fight is far from over, but she feels optimistic the rule is here to stay.

"Because people spoke up to their elected officials, they won on the Senate floor, I think that energizes folks," Kustin said.

While the Congressional effort failed, President Trump's Interior Department is likely to repeal the regulation itself through the rule-making process.

Repealing or rewriting the rule could take the Department of Interior a year or more, and could be subject to litigation by environmentalists and other opponents.