Court pauses lawsuit over Obama methane rule

Court pauses lawsuit over Obama methane rule
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A federal court on Thursday formally paused a lawsuit over an Obama administration methane regulation. 

The order, from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, halts consideration of an oil industry suit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules cracking down on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling wells. 

President Trump signed an executive order in March asking the EPA to review that regulation as part of an effort to undo several Obama-era environmental rules he argues hurt the energy industry. 

In early April, Trump administration lawyers asked the court to hold the case in abeyance because they had started the process of reviewing the rule. 

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“Pursuant to the executive order, EPA is initiating its review of this rule and providing advanced notice of forthcoming rulemaking proceedings consistent with the president’s policies,” federal lawyers wrote in a motion then. 

“If EPA’s review concludes that suspension, revision or rescission of this Rule may be appropriate, EPA’s review will be followed by a rulemaking process that will be transparent, follow proper administrative procedures, include appropriate engagement with the public, employ sound science, and be firmly grounded in the law.”

A three-judge panel formally paused the rule in a one-paragraph ruling on Thursday. 

The methane case is one of several to be stalled following Trump’s March executive order on energy. 

A federal court is also weighing whether to pause litigation over the Obama administration’s landmark climate rule, the Clean Power Plan. 

Supporters of the rule say the court should not freeze the case and instead send the rule back to the EPA for rewriting. Such a decision would allow Clean Power Plan backers to file a new lawsuit against the Trump administration if and when regulators decide to repeal the rule.