Denver Appeals Court hears methane gas and flaring case

After overturning a federal judge’s ruling in the methane gas fight on federal lands, the U.S.10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver heard from states and environmental groups who want to keep the Obama-era rules.

The Appeals Court listened Tuesday to those who contend the Interior Department should not eliminate the older rules that regulated methane venting and flaring from gas wells on public land. The 10th Circuit, in overturning the lower court said the Bureau of Land Management lacked the authority to do away with the Obama rules.

The original ruling by U.S.Judge Scott Skavdahl drew positive response from industry leaders who argued federal officials had strayed beyond the boundaries of their authority.

However, environmentalists countered Judge Skavdahl had disregarded decades of established law and appealed the ruling.

Following the judge’s ruling earlier in the year, the groups argued the judge was wrong.

“What the judge has done here is open another front in the Sagebrush Rebellion,” said Fred Cheever, co-director of the Environmental Law and Natural Resources Program at the University of Denver’s Strum College of Law. “What he is really doing is questioning the federal government’s ownership of land in the American West.”

The judge’s decision came in a fight by Wyoming and three other states that contended the Interior department had overstepped the bounds of its legal authority.

The decision represents a win for Wyoming and three other states, which had argued the Interior Department had overstepped the bounds of its legal authority.

“The court got it right,” Gov. Matt Mead said in a statement. “This is of particular importance not only to Wyoming, but the country. I have and I will continue to aggressively assert Wyoming’s authority when threatened by federal overreach.”

Now he and his supporters and the environmental groups will await a decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.