Today, Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of Interior, announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will institute a two-year delay of the implementation of its 2016 methane rule to regulate emissions on public and tribal lands. The delay is just the first step in watering the rule down. Despite an outpouring of support from the public for the rule, including in the states that would most benefit from the regulation, BLM has chosen to listen to industry, which is resisting the common sense regulations. Thousands of Green America members from coast to coast commented in favor of the regulations.
What is outrageous is that the rules simply require that the oil and gas industry limit methane emissions from their operations. These emissions are literally wasted natural gas. By allowing the industry to continue to engage in waste, the Bureau is harming communities and American taxpayers. Business as usual means:
- Wasting $330 million per year in methane from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands each year through leaks, flaring and intentional releases.
- Lost royalties for states on the millions of dollars of methane wasted. Taxpayers could lose up to $800 million in royalties that would be earned on methane that is currently wasted.
- Increases in pollution on public and tribal lands, which also impact poorer communities and people of color.
- Increases in climate emissions – methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.
It is not surprising that the day before Secretary Zinke announced the methane rule delay, the industry announced its own voluntary program for limiting methane emissions. The program pales in comparison to BLM’s rule, and will not even track the methane that is being wasted. This industry initiative is clearly in response to growing public pressure, but is too little, too late, and a poor substitute for BLM’s methane rule.
Green America will join with allies to continue to push for strict regulation of methane.