Target: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
Goal: Applaud new rules that will cut amount of natural gas and methane vented into the atmosphere.
New regulations have been announced that aim to limit the amount of methane gas that is released or flared in the atmosphere on public and tribal lands. These new rules will update 30-year-old regulations in an effort to curb wasteful practices regarding natural gas venting and reduce harmful methane emissions.
The U.S. is now the largest natural gas producer in the world, with most of the supply coming from private lands, and 11 percent coming from public lands. Between 2009 and 2014, 375 billion cubic feet of natural gas was flared or vented, which would be enough to supply over 5 million homes.
Energy companies flare or vent up to a third of the gas they produce, with no upper limit on the amount they are allowed to flare. Some of the reasons for the lost gas include the lack of appropriate infrastructure to capture the excess gas, and faulty or leaky equipment. Methane is a major component of natural gas, and is 35 percent more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
The new rules would limit energy companies operating on public land to flaring 1.8 million cubic feet of gas per month, which will affect roughly 16 percent of all oil and gas companies operating on those lands. These rules will be phased in over the next three years, and it’s estimated that around 56 billion cubic feet of gas will be captured and saved, which will be enough for around 760,000 homes. Energy companies will also be obliged to replace faulty equipment and install infrared cameras to monitor leakage, and will be barred from venting directly into the atmosphere.
Applaud this decision to cut down on natural gas waste and reduce the amount of harmful methane released into the atmosphere.
Dear Secretary Jewell,
The recent proposal to limit natural gas venting and methane emissions is to be commended. With the huge amounts of natural gas being vented, flared and essentially wasted by oil and gas companies, this decision could not have come sooner. The fact that these companies were allowed to vent without an upper limit on the amount of gas they could release into the atmosphere is mind-boggling.
Hopefully, with these regulations in place, harmful methane emissions can come down, and oil and gas companies operating on private land will be encouraged to follow suit in placing limits on their own operations. I applaud your decision, and hope that it is the start of continued action to limit the harm being done to the atmosphere by these wasteful practices.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ken Doerr