A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to immediately reinstate regulations for drilling operations on public land.
The regulations require oil and gas companies to capture or burn excess emissions, but the Interior Department offered no good reason for delaying them according to the court.
The order by a judge in San Francisco comes as Interior is moving to delay the rule until 2019, saying it is too burdensome to industry. Interior tried earlier to postpone part of the rule set to take effect next year.
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte says Interior failed to give a “reasoned explanation” for the changes and had not offered details why an earlier analysis by the Obama administration was faulty. She has ordered the entire rule reinstated immediately.
The Interior Department under secretary Ryan Zinke says these regulations are "too burdensome" on the industry, but the industry isn't even saying that.
You may recall that industry insiders actually complained when Zinke delayed the regulations because most of the industry had already implemented them. Companies that already began capturing or burning excess emissions were worried that their smaller competitors who don't give a damn about safety would undercut them and compromise the entire industry.
Zinke delayed the regulations just days before the deadline for adhering to them, so it didn't actually save the industry any money.
It seems unlikely that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will be any more favorable to Zinke's position if the Interior Department escalates this to the next level.