New EPA Numbers Highlight Ongoing Costs of Natural Gas Waste

Data released yesterday by the EPA indicate that state regulations are working to decrease methane emissions from oil and gas production, but federal taxpayers will continue to lose out until the Bureau of Land Management reforms the way royalties are collected on natural gas that is wasted through venting and flaring.

A Western Values Project report shows that taxpayers could lose out on close to $800 million in royalties to the federal treasury if leaders in Washington don’t take action.

This new data shows that state regulations are working in decreasing methane emissions from the natural gas sector. However, this progress just underscores the need for a federal rule from the Bureau of Land Management that will do the same across the board–including making sure taxpayers are getting their fair share.

No matter the amount of methane, it’s important to remember that the wasteful practice of venting and flaring is still costing taxpayers money. For example, the $42 million worth of wasted gas in New Mexico might be small potatoes to the oil and gas industry, but to a state or county budget, it could mean critical road improvements or more teachers for schools.

Western Values Project’s factsheets on the amount of natural gas vented or flared on public lands in three western states—New MexicoColorado, and Utah—are available here. Western Values Project also released a report detailing the impact of venting and flaring on taxpayers nationally, which can be found here.

Finally, a poll from Benenson Strategies last year likewise showed that a solid bipartisan majority, nearly seventy percent, of voters in Western states feel it’s time for the federal government to stop this wasteful practice.


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