Day 39: Protect The Methane Rule!

The House voted to kill the public lands methane rule. Now it’s with the Senate.

DAY 39 ACTION: Call your Senators (202-224-3231; ask for them by name) and tell them to vote against the CRA on the BLM methane rule. Protect air quality and taxpayers!

North Dakota shows up brightly on NASA satellite images, despite being the 48th most populous state. The light comes from flared natural gas at oil wells. Credit: NASA

The methane rule protects air quality and makes companies, not taxpayers, pay for wasted natural gas.

Today, Congress returns from recess. This week, the Senate could vote to kill the methane rule finalized by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in November.  That rule curbs harmful methane emissions, requires companies to pay royalties on wasted gas, and raises royalty rates.

The BLM is the largest land manager in the federal government, overseeing 245 million ‘surface’ acres and 700 million ‘sub-surface’ acres of mineral rights. The BLM permits federal oil and gas development, and collects royalties for the production of these minerals.

Natural gas is primarily made up of methane, so product is lost to the atmosphere when gas is vented or burned. As of May 2014, operators were burning 28% of the natural gas flowing from oil wells in North Dakota, at a loss of $1 million a day. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, has found the federal government does not receive a sufficient return on federal oil and gas resources.  

The BLM rule set performance standards to cut methane pollution and further discouraged waste by charging royalties for wasted gas. The rule also enabled the agency to adjust royalty rates upwards to reflect market realities.

On Day 17, we discussed the Congressional Review Act, a blunt instrument used by Congress only once in 20 years before 2017. A CRA vote will block both the rule immediately at issue and any future rule that is “substantially the same.” If Congress is successful in blocking the methane rule with the CRA, not only would it kill common-sense methane regulation and revenue generation, it would block any future actions to control methane or reform the royalty system. Taxpayers would be left watching a public resource go up in smoke.

Today’s Action: Call your two Senators and tell them to vote NO on the methane rule. 

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