February 22, 2018

New BLM Methane Rule Proposal Would Increase Pollution, Waste Public Resources

Statement by Michelle Robinson, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (February 22, 2017)—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a new proposed rule today covering methane leaks from oil and gas extraction on federal and tribal lands. This proposal would remove important controls on methane leaks, allowing unchecked emissions of this potent global warming pollutant and costing the federal government millions in royalties, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Michelle Robinson, director of the Clean Vehicles program at UCS.

“This proposal fits a pattern that we’ve seen across the Trump administration. A powerful industry is looking to gut rules that protect public health and safety, and the administration is happy to oblige. In 2016, the previous administration put in place long overdue requirements to minimize wasteful emissions from oil and gas extraction. The new proposal essentially throws all of those requirements out the window. This means we’d have to count on fossil fuel producers to voluntarily reduce their emissions, even though these drilling operations are happening on public land. BLM’s shoddy arguments for sweeping away strong rules can’t hide the fact that this is a straightforward giveaway to industry.

“The 2016 methane emissions rules were the right policy: a smart way to make the best use of public resources and reduce the risk of climate change. A resolution to overturn these rules failed to get majority support in the U.S. Senate earlier this year. BLM is making a mistake with this proposal—their approach would increase methane pollution, with no positive effect on U.S. energy supply. It could result in the release of nearly 300 billion cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere, which would cause Americans to lose more than $26 million in royalties as the gas goes uncaptured and unsold.

“Fortunately, the public will have a chance to weigh in on these rules over the coming weeks, and make clear that this is the wrong choice.”  

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.