BLM Methane Rule Rewrite Faces Nearly Unanimous Opposition

Apr 25, 2018

Credit Bureau of Land Management

A 60-day comment period came to an end Monday over a "rescission or revision" to the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. It’s a 2016 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule intended to limit venting and flaring of natural gas. 

Around 330 million dollars’ worth of gas is wasted per year according to the Environmental Defense Fund. The Trump Administration has repeatedly called for delays and rollbacks calling it costly and burdensome.  

The proposed revisions primarily remove requirements including waste minimization plans, leak detection rules, and reporting of gas vented or flared (full list). Jon Goldstein, the director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, said this would roll back protections to the 1980s.

"This does away with things like requirements that operators go out on a frequent basis and look for leaks and fix them. It does away with the Bureau of Land Management’s proposals to improve its regulations of flaring,” he said.

488,074 people commented on the revisions with 99.8 percent opposing the revision, according to the Center for Western Priorities. Goldstein said he hopes the Department of the Interior heeds the advice of taxpayers.

“The fact that 99% of his constituents are asking for this waste reduction rule to remain in place, over 100 members of congress, multiple elected officials from across the west, have all weighed in support of the 2016 rule. I do expect that’ll be taken into consideration,” he said.

Goldstein added wasted methane is also wasted taxpayer funds. According to a 2016 BLM economic analysis, around $56 million in royalty funds were lost from venting and flaring in 2014.

The Independent Petroleum Association of American submitted comments along with the Western Energy Alliance. The organization’s statement said they were pleased to see workable changes considered to more accurately represent the BLM’s authority to regulate this kind of activity.

"The Obama rule far exceeded its statutory authority under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) and has not demonstrated that it would be a safeguard as a reasonable precaution against waste, while at the same time costing our member companies tens of thousands of dollars in compliance costs with little to show for it,” the statement said.

The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule is not currently in effect due to a decision from the U.S. District Court in Wyoming to suspend enforcement until after the rule-making process.