Energy News from this Week and What it Means for You

Pledge to reduce methane leaks, but not venting/flaring: The biggest energy news this week was Sunday’s People Climate March in New York City, which attracted 400,000 marchers and was planned around the U.N. Climate Summit happening in NYC this week. As a result of the summit, six global oil companies pledged to reduce the methane emissions that occur during production and transmission, most often during transportation of oil.

“Methane can leak into the atmosphere during the production or transmission of oil and natural gas. The six companies have agreed to identify uncontrolled sources of methane, take steps to fix them such as replacing leaky valves or other equipment and publicly report their experiences.” ~USA Today

Why you should care: While this pledge by these six companies is a major step in the right direction to stopping methane leakage during transport, it doesn’t address one of the more potent forms of methane from oil and gas development—the methane released into the atmosphere when natural gas is vented or flared (burned off) as a byproduct of oil production. Venting and flaring occurs across the West, and is the waste of a valuable resource, not to mention taxpayer dollars in each state. The Bureau of Land Management is working on a rule now to regulate venting and flaring on public lands across the West, saving taxpayers money by limiting the waste of this resource.

The energy export debate is shaping up and could have big impacts for Westerners: Since the mid-70’s, there’s been a ban on exporting crude oil from the U.S., in an effort to control the global oil market and keep gas prices low at home. However, with the recent domestic boom in oil production, the debate over whether to export American oil is being revisited by decision-makers across the country. On one hand, exporting oil would grow the economy by significantly increasing demand from abroad, supporters argue. But those in opposition say it could raise domestic gas prices, which also impacts the western economy. Increased demand abroad may also mean more development out West and with it, a few questions that need answers. Already the BLM is overwhelmed with inspections, and taxpayers receive little for their public resources. Both issues need to be addressed before possibly moving forward.

In a recent UNH survey, “85 percent of the surveyed voters agreed that the U.S. should limit crude exports if it keeps U.S. gasoline prices from rising.” ~Jen Dlouhy, Fuel Fix

Related–where does all that oil and gas come from? Almost exclusively out West, and much of it comes from Texas, Wyoming, and North Dakota; but almost all of the western states are producers, according to Metric Maps this week. You can check out those maps here.

This Saturday is National Public Lands Day. Westerners highly value our public lands (“American lands”) for the multiple uses they allow us—and hunters and anglers are rallying in Montana this Saturday to prove it. This issue of auctioning federal land to states has heated up in the last few months, including the possibility of a big loss of access and states struggling to finding enough money for their proper management.

Join the effort to strengthen the American West.