The methane emissions proposal would limit venting, flaring and leaking from oil and gas operations on public and American Indian lands. It would also “provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, tribes and states,” the department says.
“I think most people would agree that we should be using our nation’s natural gas to power our economy — not wasting it by venting and flaring it into the atmosphere,” said secretary Sally Jewell in introducing the proposal.
Developed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the proposed rule would require oil and gas producers to adopt currently available technologies, processes and equipment that would limit the rate of flaring at oil wells on public and tribal lands, and would require operators to periodically inspect their operations for leaks, and to replace outdated equipment that vents large quantities of gas into the air.
Operators would also be required to limit venting from storage tanks and use best practices to limit gas losses when removing liquids from wells. The new measures would also clarify when operators owe royalties on flared gas, and ensure that BLM’s regulations provide congressionally authorized flexibility to set royalty rates at or above 12.5 percent of the value of production.
US oil production is at its highest level in nearly 30 years and the nation is now the largest natural gas producer in the world. At the same time, venting and leaks during oil and gas operations are major sources of harmful methane emissions.
About 40 percent of natural gas now vented or flared from onshore federal leases could be economically captured with currently available technologies, according to a 2010 GAO report.
The Obama Administration has set a goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
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