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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: More testimony on Ohio's "anti-protest" bill; and we'll take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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Former Oil Industry Exec Weighs In on Methane-Waste Rule

The Bureau of Land Management estimates that energy companies wasted enough natural gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. (FracTracker Alliance)
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that energy companies wasted enough natural gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. (FracTracker Alliance)
May 10, 2017

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Just hours are left for the U.S. Senate to invoke the Congressional Review Act and overturn a Bureau of Land Management rule preventing oil and gas developers on public land from venting and flaring methane gas into the atmosphere.

The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 days to overturn newly adopted agency rules, and for the BLM methane-waste rules, that deadline is Thursday. The Senate vote could come as early as today.

Wayne Warmack, a former director at ConocoPhillips, worked in the oil and gas industry for nearly three decades and contended that the rule will ensure a cleaner environment and bring in money for local communities.

The result, he said, could be "millions and millions of dollars every year that would come in the form of taxes and royalties to the states and federal government, and the public. There are job benefits, in the fact that there will be more jobs created to help capture this methane."

The BLM has estimated that companies wasted enough gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. Supporters have said royalty dollars could go to support public schools or updated infrastructure. Those who are opposed have said capturing the gas is too costly for energy companies and impractical for older well sites.

Warmack said regulations must move forward in line with the public's continually rising expectations. However, he noted, industry always rises to the challenge. One example, he said, was the mandate that vapor-control systems be installed at gas pumps.

"There was a huge cry about how much it was going to increase the price of gas and how it would put gas stations out of business and cost a lot of jobs," he said, "but the truth is that industry responds to those challenges by finding better technology and better ways to accomplish those tasks."

A poll conducted earlier this year found an overwhelming majority of voters on both sides of the political aisle support keeping the BLM methane rule in place, and 60 percent said they oppose eliminating federal requirements on energy companies.

A fact sheet on the BLM methane-waste rule is online at doi.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - WV