Oil and gas industry methane measures are not enough

Dec 5, 2017

Oil development near Carlsbad, N.M.

Mason Cummings/TWS. Aerial support by LightHawk.
Today the American Petroleum Institute announced a voluntary program to reduce methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas operations.

The program appears to be an effort to preempt the need for a strong methane rule from the federal government, including the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. Such rules already exists—BLM’s methane waste prevention rule went into effect in January—but under President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Interior Department has tried to get out of it. Evasive maneuvers have included attempting to delay implementation (which a judge struck down), asking Congress to roll back the rule with the Congressional Review Act (which failed), postponing enforcement, and announcing that a new rule would be written.

Reaction from Chase Huntley, Director of Energy and Climate, The Wilderness Society:

“While it is good to see the oil and gas industry recognize more needs to be done to capture wasted methane, the voluntary standards announced today by API are too little, too late. The industry has had years to demonstrate a sincere commitment to address a known problem, and responsible operators have done so. But we know that the voluntary approach does not work for this problem, especially with gas selling at historic lows.

“80 percent of westerners support addressing methane pollution. Secretary Zinke must listen to the American people who own these resources, rather than just giving the industry whatever it wants. The Interior Department must enforce its own methane rule, which will ensure that taxpayers get what’s due to them.”