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Interior Department Aims to Crackdown on Gas Flaring on Public and Tribal Lands |

ELM readers may remember our October 6th post detailing a study that found gas flaring actually releases much more methane into the atmosphere than previously thought. The emission of methane gas, given it is a potent greenhouse gas, contributes significantly to global warming.

Flaring is the process of burning excess natural gas at a well. Venting is the direct release of natural gas into the atmosphere. While some amount of venting and flaring is expected during oil and gas exploration and production operations, venting and flaring can be minimized when operators take reasonable precautions to avoid waste.

Perhaps that study by Genevieve Plant resonated with the Interior Department, because announced earlier this week were new rules from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to muzzle the waste of natural gas during the production of oil and gas on federal public and tribal lands.  The proposed rules would call for the creation of almost $40 million annually in additional royalties for the American public and help curb the billions of cubic feet of methane gas currently being wasted through venting, flaring, and leaks.

The proposal aims to both tighten limits on gas flaring on public and tribal lands while also forcing energy companies to do a better job of detecting methane leaks that add to Earth-warming greenhouse gas pollution.

The proposal comes on the heels of a much more comprehensive plan to crackdown on methane emissions released on November 11th by President Joe Biden. President Biden announced his November 11 plan while attending COP27, the global climate conference that recently concluded in Egypt. As expressed by President Biden, his administration will start taking aim at the oil and gas industry for its role in global warming.

By releasing these proposed new rules on Monday, “the Biden-Harris administration has taken unprecedented action to tackle methane emissions and support a clean energy economy – this proposed rule will bring our regulations in line with technological advances that industry has made in the decades since the BLM’s rules were first put in place, while providing a fair return to taxpayers,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement.

Despite the increasing presence of electric vehicles in the United States, venting and flaring activity from oil and gas production on public lands has grown significantly in the past few decades. The Department of Interior projects that between 2010 and 2020, total volumes of natural gas lost to venting and flaring on federal and tribal lands averaged about 44.2 billion cubic feet per year. This number dwarfs the 11 billion cubic feet estimated as lost due to the same activities in the 1990s.

BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said, “no one likes to waste natural resources from our public lands. This draft rule is a commonsense, environmentally responsible solution as we address the damage that wasted natural gas causes. It puts the American taxpayer first and…

Read More: Interior Department Aims to Crackdown on Gas Flaring on Public and Tribal Lands |

2022-12-03 00:27:48

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