There’s been a lot of back and forth in the news recently over just how much methane is really leaking or being released into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations. This Friday, April 17th, a public forum is happening in Farmington, New Mexico to address just that—and to update the public on research happening on the giant methane hotspot over NM’s San Juan Basin.
The forum is an opportunity for the western public to learn more about the hotspot, what’s causing it, and the next steps in research and data collection to get to the bottom of this issue. It’s already understood that the hotspot is caused partially by the wasteful practice of venting and flaring excess natural gas off into the atmosphere instead of capturing and selling it—something that happens frequently in the San Juan Basin, where natural gas is plentiful.
In fact, even the natural gas industry is calling for more data. The waste and leakage of methane from natural gas production has come to a point where it’s having a strong impact on western taxpayers and communities, and more information will help continue to form the basis for strong limits on this waste.
“If we can verify the methane detected by the satellite and identify its sources, decision-makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,” said CIRES scientist Gabrielle Pétron, who is part of the team of scientists working on the Four Corners hotspot.
The bottom line, however, is that any waste of taxpayers’ natural resources is too much—especially waste at this scale, the kind of waste that’s enough to deny New Mexico state taxpayers about $42.5 million in royalty payments since 2009—because companies don’t have to pay royalties on gas that’s flared or vented. It’s time for the BLM to put forward a strong rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations, so that westerners can get what they deserve—the payoff from their resources going to market.