The Department of the Interior (DOI) recently proposed updates to the regulations governing venting, flaring and leaking during oil and gas operations on federal and American Indian lands, which would reduce waste and methane emissions.
“The commonsense and cost-effective measures we are proposing reflect the recommendations of several government studies as well as stakeholder views and tribal consultation over the last two years,” Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider said. “These updated regulations, which would be phased in over several years to allow operators to make the transition more cost efficiently, would not only get more of our nation’s natural gas into pipelines and delivered to market but also reduce pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change.”
While the U.S. is the world’s largest natural gas producer, venting, flaring and leaks have led to losses that amount to, from 2009 to 2014, enough energy to power 5 million homes for a year. The updated regulation seeks to require the adoption of technology and processes that limit flaring, periodic inspections for leaks, and the replacement of outdated equipment. The regulation would also establish when operators should pay royalties for flared gas and create greater flexibility in setting royalty rates.
“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,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. “We need to modernize decades-old standards to reflect existing technologies so that we can cut down on harmful methane emissions and use this captured natural gas to generate power and provide a return to taxpayers, tribes and states for this public resource.”