March 25, 2016

BLM wants more comments on Methane Waste Rule

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Courtesy Tim Hurst, CC license

(News Release) The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has extended the public comment period for the recently proposed Methane and Waste Prevention Rule until April 22, 2016.

This rule would update 30-year-old regulations to reduce the wasteful release of natural gas into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and American Indian lands. The comment period was extended because of public request.

After receiving multiple communications from the public requesting an extension of the comment period or opposing such an extension, the BLM is extending the comment period from the original April 8 deadline. The public will now have an additional 14 days, until to April 22, 2016, to review and comment on the draft rule.

Send your comments supporting this rule to BLM before the April 22 deadline.

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The BLM released the proposed rule on Jan. 22, and provided the public 60 days to comment on the proposal from the date it appeared in the Federal Register on Feb. 8. The BLM conducted public outreach meetings in 2014 during development of the proposed rule in Denver, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Dickinson, N.D., and Washington, D.C.

The proposed rule would require oil and gas producers to adopt currently available technologies, processes and equipment that would limit the rate of flaring at oil wells on public and tribal lands, and would require operators to periodically inspect their operations for leaks, and to replace outdated equipment that vents large quantities of gas into the air. Operators would also be required to limit venting from storage tanks and use best practices to limit gas losses when removing liquids from wells.

The new measures would also clarify when operators owe royalties on flared gas, and ensure that BLM’s regulations provide congressionally authorized flexibility to set royalty rates at or above 12.5 percent of the value of production.

U.S. oil production is at its highest level in nearly 30 years and the nation is now the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing an abundant source of clean-burning fuel to power and heat American homes and businesses. At the same time, venting and leaks during oil and gas operations are major sources of harmful methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. U.S. methane emissions are projected to increase substantially without additional steps to lower them. The proposal 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.

Currently, vast amounts of natural gas from public and Indian lands are lost through venting, flaring and leaks from oil and gas operations. 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 – as much as $23 million annually in royalty revenue for the Federal Government and the States that share it, according to a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Send your comments supporting this rule to BLM before the April 22 deadline.

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