Montana Public Radio

Proposed Rules Target Oil, Gas Waste On Public Lands

Jan 22, 2016

The federal government today proposed new rules to reduce the amount of natural gas released into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands.

BLM Director Neil Kornze says this proposed rule will limit the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment, but more importantly it secures the country’s energy future. He says the flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas wastes a valuable resource.

"Just for context, we would have enough energy to supply all the households in Dallas and Denver. So that really brings that home for me. That this is a very meaningful rule and as Americans I think we want to have a robust energy production but at the same time we don’t want to be wasteful while we’re doing it."

During a telephone conference call with reporters, Kornze says almost 84 percent of producers already meet the proposed limits. He says the U.S. Department of Interior is proposing a three-year phase in period to bring all operators into compliance.

The rule is aimed at oil and gas development on public and tribal lands. Kornze says that’s about 5 percent of the nation’s oil production and 11 percent for natural gas.

Some conservation groups were quick to comment that this proposed rule is a step in the right direction. But Wyoming Senator John Barrasso called this another thinly veiled effort by the BLM to drive oil and natural gas production off federal land.

Once the rule is published in the federal register, there’s a 60 day public comment period. The BLM is also planning a series of public meetings in February and March.