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Report: "Wasted" Natural Gas Hurts Wyoming Workers

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A new report makes the case for tighter controls on natural gas leaks and flaring based on environmental concerns and budget issues. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund.
A new report makes the case for tighter controls on natural gas leaks and flaring based on environmental concerns and budget issues. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund.
June 25, 2015

CODY, Wyo. – Wyoming is second in the nation when it comes to how much natural gas is being released or burned off by companies working on federal and tribal lands.

A report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) finds that the gas wasted is worth more than $76 million a year, and calls for better controls to save money and prevent air pollution.

Dan Grossman, the EDF’s Rocky Mountain regional director, says the Bureau of Land Management is expected to address the issue with new rules this summer that he hopes will push operators to run efficient operations.

"So, I think it's critical if we're really going to get on top of the emissions problem and the waste problem, that BLM play a critical role in helping us do that," he states.

The methane in natural gas is a contributor to ground-level ozone pollution, which has been a persistent problem in the Upper Green River Basin. Wyoming already has instituted pollution controls in areas of heavy drilling.

Capturing the wasted gas would bring more money to Wyoming's economy since severance taxes and royalties aren't paid on natural gas that escapes or is burned off.

Barbara Cozzens, a Wyoming-based oil and gas resources consultant, says with oil prices dropping, the state and counties are already feeling the pinch.

"It's starting already, but in the next two years we're going to see sharp cuts in spending, and a lot of that's going to begin with social services and other programs that directly impact Wyoming's working families," she states.

The report estimates that existing technologies could be employed to reduce waste by 40 percent.



Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY