Selected category: BLM Methane

Three reasons Westerners are fighting to defend federal methane waste standards

Westerners are a hardy bunch. They are used to working through adverse conditions and making the best of what the land provides. That includes fighting to defend requirements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are designed to cut wasted natural gas and maximize revenue for community projects. This is despite repeated attempts from the Trump Administration to undercut these regulations and sell taxpayers short.

Here are three reasons communities and individuals from across the Mountain West are fighting to defend methane waste rules:

  1. Westerners hate waste: $1.8 billion and counting. That’s the value of taxpayer-owned natural gas that has been wasted since 2013 when the BLM began developing a new set of standards to address this problem. The rules finalized last November would help cut that waste and recover millions more in tax and royalty revenues for the western communities faced with impacts from oil and gas development that need it most.

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A timeline of Zinke's crusade against methane rules

Here’s a newly-minted cabinet secretary charged with managing 20 percent of the American landscape on behalf of taxpayers and 567 Native American tribes – presented with an opportunity to save his stakeholders millions without lifting a finger.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, inexplicably, is rejecting this broad public relations win to instead go to bat for the worst actors in the oil and gas industry who only focus on their own short-term bottom line.

Zinke is trying with all his might to halt an Obama-era rule that will reduce wasteful leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas on federal and tribal lands.

On the lands in Secretary Zinke’s charge, oil and gas companies waste around $330 million worth of natural gas annually. That’s enough gas to meet the heating and cooking needs of 1.5 million American homes – or every home in Chicago.

Such waste on land administered by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management also results in the needless emission of methane, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, all of which are threats to human health and the environment. Read More »

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When Trump’s agencies undermine small businesses supporting responsible energy

Every physician would tell you that regular check-ups are important for your health, to catch problems before they become big issues, and to let you know that everything is in working order. Regular check-ups are also important for the oil and natural gas industry, whose leading actors benefit from periodic site inspections for natural gas leaks, which let product go to waste and pollute the air our families breathe.

Unfortunately, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt slammed the brakes on these regular check-ups for methane emissions (the main component of natural gas), when EPA announced its intention to freeze for two years safeguards that include a national standard for twice annual leak detection inspections at new well pads. And mere hours later, the Bureau of Land Management suspended waste prevention standards on federal and tribal lands. While these actions might initially be popular among some in the oil & gas community in Texas, the long-term repercussions will be severe.

With commodity prices recovering and a wave of development expected in the Permian Basin, the leak detection requirements were to take effect in time to support responsible development of new resources. Read More »

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Three lessons industry should learn from surprising methane loss

 This post originally appeared on Forbes

Last week, the oil and gas lobby suffered a major and unexpected loss, when the Republican controlled Congress refused to eliminate the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) natural gas waste rule. While API has since requested a two-year stay in compliance, they should instead pause, learn the lessons presented by the CRA, and move forward according to the wishes of the American public.

Here are three lessons industry should learn.

1. They misread the mood of the American public

In the early days of the Trump Administration, its anti-climate, anti-environment agenda came into sharp focus. This looked like a golden opportunity to roll back environmental safeguards, including the BLM protections, which minimize the unnecessary flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas on federal and tribal lands. With President Trump still in the early days of his victory, and single party control of both Houses of Congress, some saw a political opening, or even a voter mandate to weaken environmental protections.

But what they saw was a mirage: Absolutely no one voted for more pollution. Read More »

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Congressional Review Act: A Law of Unintended and Long-Lasting Consequences

3802348922_e99184a252_bBy Carol Andress, Director of Legislative Operations, Climate & Air

With legislation flying fast and furious through the Capitol – much of it using new or unusual legal mechanisms – lawmakers today must be doubly mindful of unintended consequences. Case in point: Actions rushed through the House and Senate under an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the details of which can cause deeper, more lasting impact than the simple name implies.

The CRA dates to the 1990s. It says that any rule finalized by a federal agency can be subject to an expedited congressional repeal for 60 legislative days after the agency sends up a copy of the final rule and a report detailing the reasons for its promulgation. Within that window, either chamber can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval – which, if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, effectively voids the rule.

The law sounds simple enough. But it leaves a lot of room for error or mischief. Read More »

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Trump wants to reduce waste and grow jobs? Good, these methane policies do just that.

Casing-head gas

This post originally appeared on the EDF Voices blog.

Today, lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act to dismantle common-sense energy policies that can save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars and prevent massive amounts of energy resources from being needlessly wasted.

The targeted policies from the Bureau of Land Management apply to oil and gas companies that operate on 245 million acres of federal and tribal lands. Since 2013, these operators have wasted more than $1.5 billion worth of natural gas that belongs to the American public, with millions in lost royalties as a result.

That comes to more than $1 million every day – hardly what President Trump had in mind when he promised to maximize our natural resources. Read More »

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