Weekly News Roundup

North Dakota Oil Boom

“MAJORITIES IN FOUR STATES SUPPORT VENTING, FLARING RULE” (Politico Morning Energy): A poll released by WVP this week showed that over two-thirds of likely midterm voters in key energy-producing states (CO, NM, UT and ND) support a rule that would put limits on venting and flaring of natural gas on public lands. Those surveyed recognized that the practice of venting and flaring wastes valuable American energy, and burns up taxpayer dollars. The Bureau of Land Management will likely be releasing a draft rule this winter.

“If folks really knew what was happening on the public lands, they’d be calling for an end to all the waste,” said Ross Lane, director of the Western Values Project, a group that advocates a balanced approach to energy development and conservation. “If we really want to be an energy-independent nation, we’ve got to have strong policies in place that put American energy to use, not allow it to simply go up in flames.” ~From Houston Chronicle’s Fuel Fix in a story by Jennifer Dlouhy

What does this mean for Westerners? Strong bipartisan support for limiting energy waste (69% overall, with 80% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans supporting limits) makes this rule a no-brainer, and a political win. What’s more, with a strong rule in place, westerners will keep more tax dollars from their states and put more American energy to work at home.

New report on Methane: The Center for American Progress, along with the Wilderness Society, released a report detailing a jump in methane releases from energy production on federal lands since 2008. The report looked at all types of methane emissions—leakage and venting, among others—and concluded that they’ve spiked 135% in the last 5 years.

“The rising volume of taxpayer-owned gas that is being wasted is not only costing tens of millions of dollars in lost royalty payments, but it’s putting dangerous amounts of methane pollution into our air,” Matt Lee-Ashley, director of CAP’s public lands project, said in a statement. ~The Hill, “Report: Methane emissions on federal lands rising significantly

It’s not all bad: Last week, we looked at the new tech and business markets that are popping up as a result of calls for methane capture and regulation. Limiting venting and flaring could spur technological advances and economic growth in western states, which is a definite side benefit of regulation.

Related: Are home heating costs spiking up or spiraling down this winter? Analysts can’t quite seem to agree whether the cost of heating homes is going to skyrocket or plummet this winter—based on factors like natural gas supply and the market, and winter temperatures. Last year, the polar vortex across much of the US translated to a severe propane shortage in the western part of the country. This, all while oil and gas companies were venting and flaring millions of cubic tons of natural gas that could be captured and put to use. This winter, however, analysts aren’t sure which way temperatures, and natural gas stockpiles, will trend.

Says the New York Times: “After enduring frigid temperatures and higher energy costs last winter, many American consumers will spend considerably less this winter, mostly because a warmer season is forecast, the Energy Department projected on Tuesday.”

But natural gas market forecasters say “your winter heating bill, it won’t be pretty”:

“The ongoing U.S. energy boom may be driving gasoline prices lower, but homeowners who heat with natural gas may be in for another winter of sticker shock.

‘It is now looking almost certain that stocks of natural gas in the U.S. will be significantly lower than the five-year average” when temperatures begin falling in November,’ said Tom Pugh, commodities economist for Capital Economics.

‘Another cold winter, combined with lower stocks than last year, could lead to even higher price spikes than last year.’”

Join the effort to strengthen the American West.