Methane and Natural Gas Waste Rule

The methane and natural gas waste rule will reduce leaked, vented and flared natural gas and methane waste from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands.

OVERVIEW

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s methane and natural gas rule is a commonsense policy that requires the oil and gas industry to reduce venting, flaring and leaks at industry operations on public and tribal lands by deploying methane mitigation technology. Currently, more than $330 million worth of natural gas is wasted on public and tribal lands each year, meaning that taxpayers could lose out on $800 million in royalties over the next decade due to venting and flaring of this gas.

Repealing this rule would harm public health and reduce revenue to the federal government and Western states. The BLM estimates the rule’s net benefits range from $115 to $204 million per year. And economic studies have found the technologies and practices included in this rule to be very cost effective since the gas captured can be sold to the benefit of industry and taxpayers. Leaked natural gas contains volatile organic compounds, an asthma irritant, benzene, and other hazardous air pollutants that are known carcinogens. After Colorado implemented a similar rule, natural gas production increased, and the standard has been popular.

TAKE ACTION

Tell Congress to stop trying to dismantle oil and gas reforms!
This action is hosted by the Wilderness Society.

It’s time to put our health before polluter profits.
This action is hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility.

IMPACTS

Because the oil and gas industry does not pay royalties on wasted gas, the American people are not receiving their fair share of revenues from natural gas development.

If this rule is overturned through a CRA, the American people will lose out on at least $800 million in royalties over the next decade. (That is an estimate for the gas that’s wasted through venting and flaring, and doesn’t even include unaddressed leaks.)

Because states where development occurs get half of all royalties, western states have an opportunity to get substantially more money for their budgets. That means millions of dollars for schools, roads, bridges and emergency services in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.

The plentiful oil and gas resources in Four Corners region has created an invisible methane plume. Credit: Ecoflight

Furthermore, methane, which makes up 92 percent of natural gas, is a significantly potent greenhouse gas. In fact, it is 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Natural gas also contains chemicals that can harm human health, such as hydrogen sulfide, toluene, xylene, benzene and formaldehyde. These toxic air pollutants increase the chance of cancer, respiratory, neurological, reproductive, developmental and other serious health problems.

NASA has found a methane cloud the size of Delaware over the Four Corners Region that can be traced back to the oil and gas production on federal lands in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico.

By reducing natural gas waste, and the associated methane pollution, there will be significant fiscal, environmental and health benefits for the American people.

OPPONENTS

This rule has been significantly targeted by the American Petroleum Institute and the Koch Brothers, who want to allow the oil and gas industry to have unfettered and unregulated access to our federal lands.

They have found real champions in the U.S. Senate, led by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.). While the industry is driving the agenda, it is clear that their allies in Congress are more than happy to check this item off their wish list and put the industry ahead of American taxpayers and their health.

TABLE: Political Spending by Opponents of the Methane and Natural Gas Waste Rule

Industry/Group Lobbying (2015) Political Spending (2016) % Political Spending to Republicans
Oil and gas industry  $130,031,004 $97,997,278 89%

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Joshua Mantell, The Wilderness Society, josh_mantell@tws.org, (202) 429-2674

Jon Goldstein, Environmental Defense Fund, jgoldstein@edf.org, (303) 447-7204

RESOURCES

Senate Mulls ‘Kill Switch’ for Obama Methane Rule
Beloit Daily News: Feb. 23, 2017

Conserving Energy Extracted From Public Lands Should Be a No-Brainer
The Missoula News: Feb. 23, 2017

LTE: Irresponsible to Repeal Methane Waste Rule
The Missoulian: Feb. 20, 2017

Demonstrators Demand Support Methane Rules
The Cortez Journal: Feb. 14, 2017

Congressional Review Act: A Law of Unintended and Long-Lasting Consequences
Environmental Defense Fund: Feb. 8, 2017

Republicans Want to Let Fossil Fuel Companies Waste Taxpayers’ Natural Gas
Truthout: Feb. 8, 2017

BLM’s rule on methane waste should be retained
Albuquerque Journal: Feb. 8, 2017

Trump wants to reduce waste and grow jobs? Good, these methane policies do just that.
Environmental Defense Fund: Feb. 6, 2017

Wasting energy is not conservative: Keep the BLM wasted gas rule
The Hill: Feb. 6, 2017

Congress shouldn’t repeal federal methane rule
The Denver Post: Feb. 4, 2017

Don’t roll back methane rules
Bangor Daily News: Feb. 4, 2017

Congress’s repeal of Obama methane rule will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions
ThinkProgress: Feb. 3, 2017

The Big Gas Giveaway: Flaring, the Congressional Review Act, and Trump’s present to Big Oil
Friends of the Earth: Feb. 3, 2017

What’s Congress Doing to our Methane Waste Regulations?
Union of Concerned Scientists: Feb. 2, 2017

Methane Rule Fact Sheet
Center for American Progress: Feb. 2, 2017

Congress Attacks Common-Sense Curbs on Oil & Gas Pollution
Natural Resources Defense Council: Feb. 1, 2017

Using the CRA on BLM Rule Would Increase Government Waste
The Hill: February 1, 2017

Methane and Waste Prevention Rule Fact Sheet
Natural Resources Defense Council: January 31, 2017

Urgent: Congress acts to unravel Obama’s oil and gas reforms: Your voice needed this week
The Wilderness Society: Jan. 30, 2017

Congress shouldn’t butcher federal methane rule
The Denver Post: Jan. 28, 2017

Tell Congress to stop trying to dismantle oil and gas reforms!
The Wilderness Society: Jan. 26, 2017

Congress’ Newest Proposal: Let Oil and Gas Industry Intentionally Waste Taxpayer Money
The Wilderness Society: Jan. 13, 2017

Message Guide on BLM Methane and Natural Gas Waste Rule
Environmental Defense Fund: Jan. 11, 2017

Fact Sheet from the Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund: Jan. 3, 2017

BLM finalizes rule to curb methane pollution. We must fight for it under the new administration!
The Wilderness Society: Nov. 15, 2016

Interactive maps show nearness of oil and gas wells to communities in 5 states
The Wilderness Society: Oct. 26, 2016

Top five reasons BLM’s new Wasted Gas Rule matters
The Wilderness Society: Sept. 20, 2016

Report: Proposed BLM methane waste rule will increase production, revenue in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin
The Wilderness Society: Apr. 28, 2016

Colorado oil and gas operators say new regs help reduce methane pollution
The Wilderness Society: Apr. 15, 2016