Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced some big-deal steps to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% of 2012 levels by 2025. Here’s our take from yesterday:
“The announcement out from the Administration today on their methane emissions strategy is very encouraging for westerners,” said Chris Saeger, Director of the Western Values Project. “The Administration has charted a path forward —now it’s time for the Bureau of Land Management to move forward as well. Without a strong BLM rule, taxpayers are missing out on millions of dollars each year while the oil and gas industry needlessly wastes billions of cubic feet of natural gas. Yet strong limits on these emissions are supported by a vast majority of the public in key energy-producing states. When there’s a methane cloud the size of Delaware hanging out over Southwest, it’s time for the BLM to get to work.”
Now that the Administration has taken the first steps, the BLM is on track to issue a strong draft rule limiting venting and flaring of natural gas from oil production. If the BLM doesn’t issue a rule soon, states will face a major loophole concerning production on federal lands that could cause them to lose out on the majority of benefits from their own state level waste prevention rules or the EPA’s methane strategy. The oil and gas industry loses around 8 million metric tons of methane annually, which is enough to power each household in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. That is a significant loophole if the BLM rule isn’t completed soon.
And the BLM has nothing to lose. In a September 2014 poll, a veritable super-majority—nearly 70%–of likely voters in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah indicated they would support a rule requiring oil companies to significantly reduce the amount of natural gas they release or burn off into the air when they extract oil from public lands. It’s time for the BLM to take action for westerners, and tackle this much-desired rule head on.