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 rule, finalized last November, forces energy companies to capture methane that's burnt off or "flared" at drilling sites on public lands.
The Interior Department is moving to delay an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.
The rule, finalized last November, forces energy companies to capture methane that's burnt off or "flared" at drilling sites on public lands during production because it pollutes the environment. An estimated $330 million a year in methane is wasted through leaks or intentional releases on federal lands, enough to power about 5 million homes a year.
The Interior Department said in a notice to be published Thursday in the Federal Register that it wants to delay the rule until January 2019.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a leading contributor to global warming.