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Taxpayers Group Pushing to Stop Wasting Gas

A watchdog group says natural gas that leaks or burns off is costing New Mexico taxpayers millions of dollars in lost revenue. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy
A watchdog group says natural gas that leaks or burns off is costing New Mexico taxpayers millions of dollars in lost revenue. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy
August 27, 2015

FARMINGTON, N.M. - Venting and flaring at oil and natural gas wells on public lands in the Four Corners area costs the public millions in lost royalty revenue, and much more to corporations doing the extraction - not to mention releasing a major climate change contributor into the environment.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group, says the technology exists to stop the practice.

Buying advertising in the Santa Fe New Mexican and other publications this week, they're praising lawmakers for pressing the Bureau of Land Management (B-L-M) to pass a rule that ends the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas on federal lands.

Don Schreiber owns Devils's Spring Ranch in the Four Corners area...

"In that escape of natural gas, that is just throwing money away for the oil companies," he says. "Which in turn robs the taxpayer."

Schreiber ranches several thousand acres of federally managed public lands alongside drilling leases.

It's reported over $100 million of natural gas is wasted on federal lands in New Mexico each year. Michael Surrusco, policy analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense, says there's a solution.

"BLM will require oil and gas producers to use technology that currently exists so that gas is captured and that they can then resell, or sell, instead of leaking it into the atmosphere or burning it off, which is just a waste," Surrusco says.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, in a seven-year period (2006-2013), more than $380 million worth of natural gas was used, burned off or vented by energy companies on public lands nationally. Surrusco says the BLM is expected to release new rules later this year that encourage less waste and pollution in energy development on federal land.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM