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New Methane Waste Proposal Welcomed by Industry, Conservationists

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Natural gas lost through leaks, venting and other waste costs Wyoming between $8.8 million and $16 million in lost tax revenue every year. (BLM)
Natural gas lost through leaks, venting and other waste costs Wyoming between $8.8 million and $16 million in lost tax revenue every year. (BLM)
August 27, 2018

CASPER, Wyo. – Wyoming wants to extend pollution and waste reduction efforts proven effective in the Upper Green River Basin to the rest of the state.

A new proposal would limit toxic emissions and methane leaks at oil and gas facilities.

Jon Goldstein, director of regulatory and legislative affairs with the Environmental Defense Fund, says the measure should improve air quality in the eastern part of the state where more than 80 percent of current drilling is taking place.

He says the move also would keep more natural gas, one of the state's primary exports, in the pipeline, which should add more royalties to the state's coffers.

"Folks who have looked at this have found that as much as $96 million worth of natural gas is escaping due to these leaks and other forms of waste in Wyoming's oil and gas fields every year," he points out.

Wyoming has long been a leader in regulating industry. Rules established to clean up polluted air in the Pinedale region eventually were adopted by federal agencies.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming welcomes the new proposal, noting that a vast number of producers are already in compliance with federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Goldstein says there's one big issue yet to be ironed out in the proposal. He's concerned that some language in the measure could be misconstrued as tying Wyoming's standards to whatever happens with the EPA.

"That is not how Wyoming has done business in the past,” he states. “They've always made sure that they were out in front and not in any way handcuffed to whatever happened in Washington. And we want to ensure that that continues."

The Trump administration has taken steps to roll back EPA standards for methane pollution, along with a number of other Obama-era environmental protections.

A public hearing for Wyoming's proposal is set for Sept. 11 before the Air Quality Advisory Board in Casper.

Public comments also can be registered online through the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality website.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY