Stating that 40 percent of the methane gas being ‘flared’ or burned off by oil companies on public lands could be captured economically and sold, the Obama administration wants to create new rules putting an end to the practice. A report by the Government Accountability Office makes the claim about the 40 percent number and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the gas should be used to power the economy and not wasted by being burned into the atmosphere.
She maintains the new rule would modernize the decades-old standards to reflect existing technologies and also fall in line with President Obama’s move to curb climate change. Jewell says enough natural gas was lost through venting, flaring and leaks between 2009 and 2014 that it could have powered more than 5 million homes for a year. The Secretary also claims the new rule would generate millions of dollars to be returned to taxpayers, tribes and states while also reducing pollution. Methane gas is typically burned at drilling sites and Jewell says the methane emissions made up nearly 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The oil and gas industry doesn’t think much of what Jewell is proposing.
“Another duplicative rule at a time when methane emissions are falling, and on top of an onslaught of other new regulations, could drive more energy production off federal lands,” said Eric Milito, who is director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute. He said if the rule is allowed to be put into place, it will result in less federal revenue, fewer jobs, higher costs for consumers and less energy security.
Environmental groups are praising the proposed rule and they havse just the opposite stand.
“Today’s proposal is a win all around for our environment, public health, taxpayers and our energy security,” said David Willett of the League of Conservation Voters.