[UPDATED below. Submit your comments to BLM.]
What the heck is natural gas flaring?
Gas flaring is the nasty little process (pictured at right) where natural gas processing plants (or other oil and gas production sites) burn off flammable gas into the atmosphere. It’s a common practice but it’s extremely wasteful and also harmful to the environment.
As you can imagine, tons of usable oil and gas is burned off into the atmosphere every year that could otherwise be sold on the market and, in New Mexico, help fund vital services like public education (through the Land Grant Permanent Fund). A significant portion of CO2 emissions – the driving force behind man-made climate change – come from flaring.
FLARING FACT: Flaring, and especially with the rapid growth in flaring and oil and gas development we’ve seen in the West, can trigger hazardous ozone spikes, haze and smog endangering those with respiratory problems, children and the elderly.
With support from the White House, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is looking at new rules to address gas flaring and venting in order to reduce the wasted resources (and negative taxpayer, consumer, and environmental impacts) associated with flaring. That’s where YOU come in.
FLARING FACT: In the West, nearly 16% of homes rely on propane for home heating, and another 26% rely on natural gas. Continued flaring means increased prices for home consumers. With propane prices nearly three times higher in much of the country than last year, there’s simply no reason we should be burning resources that families are struggling to afford in keeping their homes warm.
The BLM is holding a “Venting and Flaring Forum” in Albuquerque TODAY (May 7, 1pm-4pm @ National Indians Training Center, 1011 Indian School Rd. NW, telephone number 505-563-5114). We’ll be there making sure this perspective is heard. You should lend your voice as well.
The BLM wants community input into this process and we need to make sure they hear from citizens who want to protect our environment and make sure the state is garnering all the possible revenues it can from oil and gas producers.
FLARING FACT: In 2010 the Government Accountability Office found that the public loses up to $23 million annually in royalties from venting and flaring of natural gas on federal public lands. Nearly half of those funds are distributed to the states, including New Mexico which receives millions in revenues each year allocated to the State General Fund.
New Mexico’s share of federal revenues could be anywhere from $250 thousand to upwards of $1 million annually depending on what data and estimates are used.
If you care about our environment, taxpayer dollars, or education in New Mexico attend Wednesday’s meeting and make your voice heard. It’s time for the oil and gas industry to stop wasting public resources. It’s time to require the oil and gas industry to capture that flared gas and put it onto the market where it can fund our public education.
BLM Venting and Flaring Forum
National Indians Training Center, 1011 Indian School Rd. NW, ABQ, NM
May 7, 1pm to 4pm
UPDATE: ProgressNow NM was there yesterday for the BLM forum advocating on behalf of a strong rule to govern oil and gas flaring and venting. A multitude of oil and gas lobbyists were there as well arguing (predictably) against further regulations, but there was also a strong showing of environmentalists from the Sierra Club, the Western Environmental Law Center, and others.
While much public input was given to the BLM during the forum, the public comment period is open until May 30th. Use the link below to send your comments and suggestions to the BLM on how they can create and maintain a strong rule to limit the harmful practice of flaring and venting.