WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham welcomed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) final rule to save taxpayers' money and energy resources and reduce harmful emissions by curbing the wasteful venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas.
The BLM's Methane and Waste Prevention Rule announced today will update the 30-year-old regulations governing natural gas operations on public and Indian lands. By phasing in changes, including a requirement that operators use currently available technologies and processes to reduce flaring, the rules will enable producers ultimately to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and Tribal lands. The administration expects the rule will reduce methane emissions by as much as 35 percent, contributing to its overall goal of cutting emissions by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
"New Mexico's natural resources provide jobs and royalty payments and are an important part of our state's economy — we can't afford to waste any of it. But natural gas waste due to outdated requirements has cost New Mexico's taxpayers $43 million in lost revenues since 2009, and it has cost the state's overall economy more than $100 million. Not only that, the waste has created an alarming concentration of methane over the Four Corners region. This dangerous greenhouse gas is at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and a major public health hazard," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. "These new rules will allow us to cut waste in half so we can use that saved natural gas to power our economy, and the additional revenue to invest in schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. And less waste means less smog and healthier people for generations to come."
In July, the New Mexico lawmakers called for prompt action on the federal standards to protect public health, fight climate change and ensure taxpayers receive fair compensation for mineral production on federal lands. The letter is available here. More information about the BLM's Methane and Waste Prevention Rule is available here.