Proposed legislation could reduce wasted energy resources on public lands

Photo by Blake Thornberry, flickr

Earlier this week 12 members of the House of Representatives put forward a bill that would help curb the waste of natural gas.

By Joshua Mantell

Led by Congressmen Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Alan Lowenthal of California, this legislation would stop the practice of venting and flaring from oil and gas operations on federal lands and force companies to plug leaks during the production and development of these energy resources.

These practices are harmful for a few reasons. One of them is industry is wasting resources that belong to the American people without paying, or even accounting, for how much is being lost. There are millions of dollars of federal revenue at stake. A new report shows that in 2013, $360 million dollars were lost because of the lack of controls for wasted gas on federal lands.

Another reason this legislation is important is that the gas being vented and released through leaks is comprised almost fully of methane. Methane is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere. It is a huge problem that is contributing to climate change.

Fortunately, the federal government is working to solve this problem. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is shaping guidelines that would stem venting, flaring and leaking of gas.

The BLM could do a better job of managing our public lands and ensure that the American taxpayers are not seeing their resources wasted into the atmosphere. The BLM has the authority and obligation to stop much of these practices and it is past time for them to look to modernize how business is done on our public lands.

It is great to see leaders in congress put forward their proposal and hopefully the BLM and Interior Department can stem the release of methane. It is good for our land, the surrounding communities, the American taxpayer and our climate.