The U.S. District Court of Northern California blocked the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) postponement of an Obama-era rule regulating royalties paid by energy companies on federal and tribal lands Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke began repealing the Consolidated Federal Oil and Gas and Federal and Indian Coal Valuation Reform Rule in order to replace it with “more workable” regulations.

The court ruled that the DOI violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it postponed the rule after it was in effect and did not seek public comment on its full repeal, according to court documents.

The Obama-era rule was implemented to prevent energy companies from using a loophole to avoid paying royalties when mining on public land, Reuters reports.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue found the rule had “several significant defects … that would have undermined its purpose and intent,” according to the Federal Register.

“Repealing the Valuation Rule restores our economic freedom by ensuring our energy independence,” Zinke said in a DOI press release. “The increased costs associated with the Valuation Rule had the potential to decrease exploration and production on Federal lands, both onshore and offshore, making us rely more and more on foreign imports of oil and gas.”

Professor Richard Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, applauded the court ruling in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“This ruling is another example of how federal agencies under President Trump have been using illegal maneuvers to roll back environmental safeguards,” Revesz said. “By ignoring the rule of law, the administration has turned its anti-regulatory strategy into a house of cards.”

Follow Tim Pearce on Twitter

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller


  • CFACT Ed

    CFACT -- We're freedom people.