Right now, when companies produce oil and gas, they release a tremendous amount of methane into the atmosphere. Much of this waste occurs on federally owned lands and subsurface minerals. In the West, where the majority of the nation’s public lands are located, existing state rules to guard against waste fail to address this problem. Fortunately, the federal government is setting new standards to provide a strong floor of protection, force the industry to act more responsibly, and guide states in updating their waste rules.
The American Lung Association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half (52.1%) of the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
Conservation Economics Institute has found that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed methane waste rule will have a net positive impact on oil and gas production and revenue in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin.
And yet, these concrete steps forward still won’t reduce methane emissions to the levels targeted by the Administration. This is due primarily to the fact that EPA’s proposed methane standards are limited to new and modified sources, and will not apply to existing sources of methane pollution in the oil and gas sector.