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Senate Committee to Review New BLM Methane Rules Today

The U.S. Senate is holding a hearing today on new rules that aim to reduce oil and gas waste on public and tribal lands.  (Pixabay)
The U.S. Senate is holding a hearing today on new rules that aim to reduce oil and gas waste on public and tribal lands. (Pixabay)
April 14, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining, chaired by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is holding a hearing in the nation's capital today on new rules proposed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that aim to reduce oil and gas waste on public and tribal lands.

A recent report by the consulting firm ICF International, found that oil and gas companies operating on Wyoming's public lands were wasting more than $40 million worth of gas a year from leaking, venting and flaring.

Elaine Crumpley, president of Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development, said the rules are sorely needed.

"Taxpayers could lose out over a $100 million if something isn't done," she stressed. "And it would also create jobs. And then how about the health? Those harmful pollutants, benzine. If you want to drill, go ahead, but do it right and keep it in the pipe."

Crumpley added that the techniques that worked in Pinedale to reduce emissions and stop waste should be required for all companies operating on public lands. The Western Energy Alliance has called the new rules "unnecessary regulatory red tape."

The Government Accountability Office estimates taxpayers lose almost $23 million a year in royalties when methane, the primary component of natural gas, is lost at well sites.

Amber Wilson, environmental quality coordinator with the Wyoming Outdoor Council said the state needs oil and gas money now more than ever.

"Especially in Wyoming, at a time when our revenues are down and the state is looking for answers to how we're going to continue to fund things like our schools and infrastructure, the sale of every molecule of natural gas, no matter the price of that natural gas, comes with tax revenue," she said.

Todd Parfitt, director of Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality, is expected to testify at today's hearing.

The BLM is accepting public comments on the proposed rules until April 22nd.

The ICF's full report can be read online here.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY