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Earthjustice Responds To New Protections From Oil and Gas Air Pollution

Wasteful gas flaring and leaks burn up a public resource and unnecessarily increase air pollution
As the sun sets on another California day, a flare burns in an oil field near Bakersfield, CA.

A flare burns in a California oil field.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
November 15, 2016
Washington, D.C. —

Today, the Obama administration finalized a safeguard to limit air pollution from oil and gas operations on federally owned public lands. These protections will reduce emissions of methane, a fast-acting climate pollutant that traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide in the short term.

What You Should Know About Methane

New camera technologies now enable operators to easily see leaks of invisible natural gas.
Video courtesy of FLIR Optical Gas Imaging

The Bureau of Land Management issued the safeguard, which will require oil and gas companies to reduce venting, flaring and leaks from industry operations. The oil and gas industry wastes $330 million worth of taxpayers’ money of natural gas every year by burning it in flares or by failing to repair leaky equipment. Additionally, venting, flaring and leaking natural gas spews toxic pollution into the air—polluting the air our children breathe and increasing asthma attacks rates for the 74,000 people living within a half-mile of oil and gas facilities on public lands. According to BLM, this rule could reduce methane emissions by up to 180,000 tons per year.

This safeguard is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

The following is a statement by Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice Vice President of Litigation for Climate and Energy:

“Now more than ever, we need to continue taking decisive actions on climate change and the protection of public health.

“Earthjustice applauds President Obama’s commitment to fight climate change while saving taxpayers’ money. By cutting methane pollution from oil and gas operations on our public lands, this safeguard will help rein in a climate change pollutant that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Common-sense protections to stop wasting gas come at low or no net costs to industry and deliver significant health and environmental benefits to the growing number of communities that have oil and gas drilling in their backyards.”