Protect air quality and reduce waste on public lands

February 26, 2016

BLM, Dept of Interior, methane

land-ownership-in-the-american-west-13-638
Action alert!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft rule this month aimed at curbing the wasteful practices of flaring, venting, and leaking natural gas on all public lands (BLM and national forest) and tribal lands. Not be confused with the EPA’s proposed methane rules which were released last August.

According the BLM “Fact Sheet on Methane and Waste Reduction Rule” the agency “is proposing to update its regulations to reduce the waste of natural gas from flaring, venting, and leaks from oil and gas production operations on public and Indian lands.”

The BLM’s methane rule will apply to drilling of federal leases on public lands. And it will apply to many, but not all, existing and new oil & gas facilities located on public lands. Whereas the EPA’s methane rule covers drilling on both public and private lands, it would apply only to new oil & gas facilities, not existing ones. However if the BLM does approve strict methane rules on existing oil & gas facilities on public lands, the precedent will be set and the pressure will be on the EPA to follow suit.

In 2014, Colorado led the nation in passing tough air quality rules that address some of the problems associated with methane and fugitive emissions, though unfortunately those tough new regulations do not include all existing wells and facilities. The BLM rulemaking gives us an opportunity to build on the progress that was started two years ago and to guarantee more protections for all Americans.

You can read the BLM’s overview here, but briefly this rule would:

  • Reduce drilling-related air pollution
  • Decrease the amount of natural gas that is unnecessarily wasted
  • Increase royalty revenues for both state and tribal governments

Western Colorado Congress (WCC), Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), and The Wilderness Society (TWC) have organized and combined efforts to support the BLM’s proposed rule. They are asking for our help. We must urge the BLM to strengthen it with provisions to do the following:

  1. Improve leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements, and eliminate the small producer exemption
  2. Remove flaring and venting exemptions for existing leases
  3. Extend leak prevention standards to all equipment
  4. Ensure proper enforcement
  5. Ensure transparency

Click here to view an excellent PowerPoint presentation about the BLM Methane Rule.

The rule is open for your public comment until April 8.

Two upcoming public hearings are scheduled on BLM Methane Rule

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Denver
7390 West Hampden
Lakewood, CO

The Denver hearing will be available on livestream. Click here at the date and time to view.  Call in to the hearing at 1-888-469-3312 and enter password 2011952#. You must use the call-in number if you wish to ask a question or make a statement.

Click here to access the BLM’s PowerPoint presentations.

Thursday, March 3, 2016
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Astoria Hotel and Event Center
363 15th Street W.
Dickinson, ND

How you can support the BLM Methane Rule:

  • Sign up to attend the BLM public hearing in Denver on Tuesday, March 1. Resources are available to help with travel. Click here to sign up for the hearing.
  • Send a comment to the BLM in support of the rule and ask them to strengthen it in key areas. Comments are due by April 8. It’s so easy. Just click here to send your comment.

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation with talking points to strengthen your comment.

Take action now!

For more information:

BLM to live-stream Denver hearing on new methane rules
Feds aim to cut methane pollution by 40 percent in next 10 years

Living With Oil and Gas
A social media project documenting stories of Westerners impacted by oil and gas in their backyards.

Falling Short
A state-by-state report on oil and gas air quality regulations by WORC and the Western Environmental Law Center.

The Flaring Boom
A WORC report examining the causes and effects of flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas and ways to curtail these wasteful practices.

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