-- Hundreds of thousands ask for reinstatement of 2016 methane protections --
Today, the 60-day public comment period closes on the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to gut the 2016 methane waste rule. BLM’s new proposed rule eliminates important environmental and public health protections established under the 2016 rule and will result in increased natural gas waste and reduced taxpayer revenue. Over 400,000 comments in opposition to BLM’s proposal and in support of the original rule have been submitted, more than were submitted during consideration of the 2016 rule. No public meetings were held, despite requests from TWS and other groups.
In response, The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Energy and Climate Program Director Chase Huntley:
“It’s disgraceful that BLM did not hold a single public meeting anywhere to hear the concerns of the communities impacted by gutting these protections. This administration continues to ignore public input at every turn, especially when, in the case of this comment period, there were over 400,000 comments opposing their proposal. For perspective, more than 99 percent of the comments received by the agency support the 2016 rule. With overwhelming public opinion and independent audits in agreement that the administration approach is inadequate to prevent waste, the simple fact is that the only beneficiaries of the administration's actions are the industry itself.”
BLM’s original Methane Waste Prevention Rule was targeted as a high priority for elimination by industry groups soon after the 2016 presidential election. Several attempts have since been made by both the Trump administration and Congress to comply with related special interest lobbying efforts to gut the rule or get rid of it entirely.
The regulation, which was finalized in November 2016 and went into effect in January 2017, was created to cut the waste of natural gas owned by the American people through both accidental leaks and intentional venting and flaring--more than $330 million in natural gas is wasted each year. It was created to address the concerns of independent government oversight agencies that BLM was not meeting its legislative mandate to prevent the waste of taxpayer-owned resources.
The result of multiple years of work, 330,000 public comments, and eight public forums, it would have ensured taxpayers received millions of dollars each year in missing royalties and reduced harmful smog and pollution from methane—a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.