Feds eye new methane rules for public lands

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Feds aim to reduce methane emissions from natural gas production on public lands.

Common sense measures to help meet climate targets

Staff Report

Proposed federal rules could help slow the release of potent heat-trapping methane emissions from gas production on public and Native American lands.

Between 2009 and 2014, enough natural gas was lost through venting, flaring and leaks to power more than five million homes for a year. States, Tribes and federal taxpayers also lose royalty revenues when natural gas is wasted. According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report, taxpayers lose up to $23 million annually in royalty revenue.

The Department of Interior wants oil and gas producers to use existing technology to limit flaring, and to conduct more regular inspections for leaks. Some equipment upgrades would also be required. Operators would also be required to limit venting from storage tanks and use best practices to limit gas losses when removing liquids from wells.

“I think most people would agree that we should be using our nation’s natural gas to power our economy … not wasting it by venting and flaring it into the atmosphere,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “We look forward to hearing from the public on this proposal.”

U.S. methane emissions are projected to increase substantially without additional steps to lower them. The proposal announced today is consistent with the Obama Administration’s goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposal once it is published in the Federal Register. The BLM also plans to hold a series of public meetings on the proposed rule in February and March.

A fact sheet on the proposed rule is available here. The proposed rule can be found here, along with the Regulatory Impact Analysis and Environmental Assessment.

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