Methane flare on Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado
Credit: Mason Cumming
By the time the public comment period ended on April 22, over 12,000 Wilderness Society supporters had submitted comments applauding a new rule that addressed natural gas waste on public lands—waste that is contributing to climate change and shortchanging taxpayers. Thank you!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sought public comments on the new draft rule to reduce the waste of natural gas through venting (intentional release of gas into the atmosphere), flaring (burning off gas) and leaks. In total, over 200,000 members of the public stood up and asked the BLM for stricter guidelines on natural gas waste on public lands.
Your voice is crucial to ensuring that industry objections don’t convince the BLM to weaken the proposed rule during its final review. Thank you for speaking up and telling the BLM we need stricter guidelines for methane pollution on public lands. A final rule is expected before the end of the Obama administration.
Currently, the yearly waste of natural gas on public lands could supply Chicago with its natural gas needs for a year. Credit: Mike Eisenfled (WildEarth Guardians), flickr.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is up to 84 more times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. A new rule would reduce the venting, flaring and leaks of methane from both current and future oil and gas development projects on public lands. The oil and gas industry is currently the highest source of methane emissions in the U.S., and a recent study by The Wilderness Society found that 21 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, can be traced to oil, gas and coal extracted from federal lands.
Public support for the rule was also demonstrated in four public meetings in February and March, where supporters of reducing methane pollution and waste outnumbered the industry-led opposition by 3:1. Two former BLM directors, elected officials at national and local levels, members of Congress, leaders from Western tribes and hunting and angling groups have also publicly called for stronger limits on methane emissions. In a recent poll, 80% of Westerners think that these guidelines are important.
The BLM natural gas waste rule will help prevent the waste of public resources, and have the added benefits of capturing otherwise lost revenue for local communities, improving public health and helping the U.S. to meet its targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.