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The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

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BLM Methane Rule Rollbacks Put Wyoming Proposal in Spotlight

As much as $96 million worth of natural gas is lost due to flaring, venting and leaks in Wyoming's oil and gas fields every year. (BLM)
As much as $96 million worth of natural gas is lost due to flaring, venting and leaks in Wyoming's oil and gas fields every year. (BLM)
September 19, 2018

LANDER, Wyo. – The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday took final steps to weaken Obama-era methane rules requiring oil and gas companies to reduce the amount of natural gas lost through venting, flaring and leaks on public lands.

BLM officials have claimed that the rules would unnecessarily burden energy production. But Dustin Bleizeffer, communications director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, argued that limiting waste allows producers to bring more gas to market. He said reducing toxic emissions also makes Wyoming's air safer to breathe.

"These are matters of public health, and it's an appropriate cost of doing business," he said. "In this case, it's a step that will save oil and gas companies millions of dollars. So, it's a win-win."

The BLM's decision comes on the heels of Environmental Protection Agency efforts to relax protections against methane pollution. However, Wyoming is considering a proposal to extend pollution- and waste-reduction efforts that have been effective in the Upper Green River Basin to the rest of the state.

Bleizeffer says Wyoming has a long history of charting its own destiny, and is hopeful state officials won't follow the feds' lead on methane.

Bleizeffer said the amount of natural gas wasted each year costs Wyoming taxpayers as much as $16 million in lost royalties that state and local governments could use to pay for roads, emergency services and education.

Some oil and gas companies also have claimed that the investment needed to comply with methane rules could cost jobs, but Bleizeffer countered that deploying new technologies to spot and fix leaks can bring more jobs to the energy sector.

"Quite the opposite, it will help create jobs to check these sites and do the necessary repairs," he said. "It will help create jobs at the city and county and state level by adding more revenue to our coffers."

Public comments on Wyoming's proposal for extending methane protections can be made online through the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's website. The measure is expected to be finalized on or around Nov. 1.

Wyoming's proposal is online at deq.wyoming.gov, and public comments are being taken here.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY