In Big Oil’s Backyard, Opposition to New BLM Rule to Curb Natural Gas Waste is Surprisingly Weak

Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management held the second of four listening sessions in Oklahoma City on its recently announced draft rule to curb natural gas waste by limiting venting, flaring, and leaks at oil and gas operations on public lands. The hearing was a success in favor of the rule, where by a margin of 3:1, commenters at the hearing voiced their support of the BLM’s efforts to reduce waste.

In fact, only four people (out of 16) showed up to voice any questions about, or opposition to, the rule. That’s pretty surprising for a hearing that was likely set in Big Oil’s backyard—Oklahoma—in order to get more of an industry view on the rule. Industry’s lack of turnout could suggest that they—like others—realize the widespread benefits, across communities and economies, of this rule.

What are those benefits? Right now, because of venting and flaring on public lands across the West, taxpayers are losing out on upwards of $64 million annually—a ton of money for local and state budgets usually dependent on oil revenue, that are strapped for cash in this market downturn.  Capturing and selling the gas, as the BLM would push companies to do, would cost industry pennies on the dollar; would generate increased revenue for taxpayers and communities; and would provide industry with more of a valuable resource to sell.

What’s more, in a factsheet published by BLM on the proposed rule, the agency found—using conservative estimates—that the benefits of the rule are expected to be anywhere between $115 and $188 million annually, while the costs of the rule are thought to only run industry between $125 and $161 million annually—leaving a likely margin where the benefits outweigh the costs.

It’s time for a strong rule from the BLM—and it seems like, with their silence, industry agrees, too.

Join the effort to strengthen the American West.