There is nothing efficient for the environment or our wallets when natural gas is vented and flared at production sites. These practices redistribute chemicals from the gas wells into our public air and waterways. Flaring refers to burning gas that is not economical to collect for profit – depending on the chemical structure of what’s being burned, flaring can release air pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, hexane, and 60 more toxins. Venting is the release of methane gas into the atmosphere, and is practiced at varying times throughout the oil and gas process. It poses an even greater threat to the environment and our health than flaring, and that’s saying something.
When these practices are conducted on public lands, it comes out of the pockets of US taxpayers. Every year, oil and gas companies waste $330 million dollars’ worth of taxpayer-owned natural gas through these wasteful practices that have significant health and environmental consequences. That’s enough natural gas to meet the needs of Chicago. In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took action to reduce this costly burden through the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, which takes a cost-effective and common-sense approach to curbing methane waste and modernizing how energy is produced and utilized throughout the country. Individuals, organizations, and many oil and gas companies and trade groups all agree this rule is an economically effective way to deal with the problem of methane waste. Taxpayers would benefit from the estimated $800 million in royalties over the next decade if the rule is enforced
Here’s the Problem:
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump are now trying to suspend this essential BLM rule. In a direct attack on the health of our communities and environment and a gross misuse of taxpayer money, they are privileging the desires of special interests over hardworking citizens. That means $330 million of natural gas on public lands will continue to be wasted, and the public will lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties. By delaying the BLM methane rule, and working to overturn it, the Trump administration has made it extremely clear they are comfortable wasting taxpayer money and publicly-owned American energy, while allowing pollutants into the air which will increase rates of asthma attacks in children, all in order to help the fossil fuel industry.
The fossil fuel industry should not be given special treatment at our expense, especially since small businesses across the country are following or exceeding environmental regulations. Green America's Business Network has thousands of US companies that adhere to standards which protect the environment, workers, nearby communities, and generate revenue. If a small business can be profitable while protecting our health and the environment, certainly major companies with ample resources can rise to the challenge of responsibly cleaning up their by-products. That’s why thousands of green businesses from Green America’s network and from the American Sustainable Business Council support methane regulation and supported the BLM’s rulemaking to regulate flaring and venting.
Time to Push Back:
Despite a recent court decision that overturned BLM's last effort to delay this rule and found BLM’s arguments to be arbitrary and capricious, the agency is pushing forward with this new rule delay (and will work to water down the rule) to ensure that tax dollars will keep being wasted in this environmentally costly process. What's worse is that BLM has set a pitifully short 30 day comment period for the public to submit their concerns– so we must act today in order to protect this critical rule. Green America and its individual and business members will oppose the delay of this important rule, and will continue to push back against the fossil fuel industry and their allies in the Trump Administration.
SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT here and create your own comment or use the below sample text:
The U.S. has taken important strides to address dangerous methane pollution, and we can't afford to go backward. Leaking, venting, and flaring from natural gas facilities wastes hundreds of millions in taxpayer owned natural resources and puts our families at considerable health risk.
Strong protections on methane and toxic pollution from oil and gas production are a win-win, keeping us safer and providing needed revenue that benefits our local schools and infrastructure like roads and bridges. Suspending the BLM methane waste rule means the waste of more American energy and is unacceptable. If you care about families like mine, I urge you not to suspend natural gas waste limits.
Written by Beth Porter and Todd Larsen