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BLM Seeks Public Input on Capturing Natural-Gas Waste

The Bureau of Land Management will hear public comments Tuesday, Mar. 1, in Lakewood on its proposal to reduce natural gas waste. (Ekton/iStockphoto)
The Bureau of Land Management will hear public comments Tuesday, Mar. 1, in Lakewood on its proposal to reduce natural gas waste. (Ekton/iStockphoto)
February 25, 2016

DENVER - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold a public hearing in Lakewood next Tuesday, Mar. 1, on its proposal to reduce natural-gas waste on public lands.

The Government Accountability Office estimates taxpayers lose some $23 million a year in royalties when gas is wasted through venting, flaring and leaks at well sites.

Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck supports the plan. He points to Colorado's regulations, passed in 2014, that successfully brought gas that would otherwise have been lost to market.

"What's being proposed is common sense, and it can be a win across the board," says Houck. "Ultimately, the communities and people who own the resource, which is the people of the United States, we see it used and not wasted. And we see that the royalties come back to the community, and we see benefits to the environment."

Houck says more than money is at stake for Coloradans concerned about the environment.

According to scientists, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping climate-changing heat.

Energy trade groups claim regulations will increase production costs, and could lead to job loss. According to the Wilderness Society, new technologies to limit waste would actually add jobs.

Research by ICF International, a consulting firm, estimates at least $330 million worth of natural gas is lost each year, and a recent Colorado College poll shows 80 percent of Westerners support limiting methane waste on public lands.

Joshua Mantell, carbon management campaign manager for The Wilderness Society, says surveys are useful, but he believes it's important for Coloradans to show up and express their opinions.

"Without seeing people come up and urge the Bureau of Land Management to protect the resources of the American people, companies have a blank check to do what they want on these federal lands," says Mantell.

The public hearing starts at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the Holiday Inn at Wadsworth and Hampden in Lakewood. The BLM says speakers must register before the hearing starts, and will have three minutes to comment on its proposal.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO