Each year, taxpayers lose out on nearly $330 million worth of methane gas taken from public lands. Some is lost through leaky and antiquated equipment and pipelines, but most is simply burnt off as a by-product. Without the rule, taxpayers would lose some $800 million in royalties over the next decade.
The rule, released earlier this week, comes after a painstakingly public process in which over 300,000 people participated. It builds on what states like Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota have already done. The rule is a commonsense effort to reduce government waste, and has broad, bi-partisan support. A January poll found that 80% of Westerners support reducing methane waste on public lands.
Perhaps not surprisingly, industry groups including the Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America have already filed suit against the rule. What is astonishing, however, is that their lawsuit came within minutes of the release of the 300 page rule.
The bottom line is that this rule is a win-win for taxpayers. It will greatly reduce wasted resources and bring in additional revenue by simply requiring the capturing and sale of methane.