Today, the Biden administration released the draft U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) methane gas waste rule. The proposal is an important first step but falls short of President Biden’s commitment to eliminate routine venting and flaring of associated gas by 2030, a practice which wastes domestic energy resources and harms the health of surrounding communities and ecosystems.
The proposed rule would charge royalties on certain flared gas but would not require flared gas to be captured and used. The Biden administration should follow the lead of states like Colorado and New Mexico that go beyond assessing royalties by eliminating routine flaring.
“It is the very definition of ‘waste’ to allow oil and gas companies to needlessly burn our federal and tribal gas in the pursuit of maximum profits. Yet the federal government’s long overdue proposal does not take the steps necessary to prevent such waste,” said Robin Cooley, Earthjustice deputy managing attorney. “This failure comes at the expense of communities who suffer the harmful noise, air, and light pollution associated with rampant flaring.”
“Fort Berthold Reservation, where my family and I live, is where the most flaring occurs in North Dakota, which is the state with the most flaring! As a newly elected state representative, it’s my honor and my duty to speak on behalf of my people,” said Lisa Finley-DeVille, North Dakota State Representative and Dakota Resource Council/Fort Berthold POWER board member. “Right now we are poisoned by the toxins in flares and we are losing out on royalties from flared gas. BLM must eliminate routine venting or flaring to protect impacted communities like mine because my state and my tribal government are not protecting us.”
“Wasteful and routine venting and flaring of methane on public and Tribal lands is simply irresponsible governance,” said Barbara Vasquez, a leader with the Western Organization of Resource Councils, from Cowdrey, Colorado. “If the BLM’s proposed rule can’t prevent the waste of this valuable resource, and it’s negative impact on rural communities like mine, we don’t want it. And it’s abundantly clear that simply taxing flared gas won’t do it.”