The Bureau of Land Management took a big step toward protecting national parks across the West with its finalization of new rules to curb methane emissions from oil and natural gas facilities on public and tribal lands.
Each year, millions of cubic feet of methane from these facilities is either intentionally vented into the atmosphere, burned off at the well, or leaked from production facilities. All those emissions add up to reduced air quality and visibility at national parks across the West.
The oil and gas industry is the largest emitter of methane in the nation, much of it coming from drilling operations on federal lands near national parks. Many of these drilling operations are near some of our most iconic parks, including Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument.
Methane pollution is also one of the most powerful contributors to climate change, one of the biggest threats facing our national parks. In addition, because the methane comes from federal lands, taxpayers are losing out on potential revenues from drilling.
The new rules require oil and natural gas producers to update production equipment to higher standards in order to reduce both methane leaking and the need to vent and flare gas. It also requires producers to implement Leak Detection and Repair, or LDAR, practices to reduce leaking.
These rules from BLM will significantly reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on federal lands, helping to curb climate change and protect park air. The industry is capable of reducing this methane waste with affordable technologies that are already in use in some of the leading oil- and gas-producing states.
The National Parks Conservation Association advocated hard for the finalization of these new protections, submitting comments on draft versions and commenting at public hearings on the proposed rules.
Below is a statement by Nicholas Lund, with NPCA’s Conservation Programs:
“When oil and gas facilities leak or vent methane they harm national parks, waste taxpayer money, and contribute to climate change. If we don’t control methane emissions, national parks in oil and gas regions will continue to experience declining air quality and increasing climate disruption.
“Today’s finalized rules are an important step by the BLM to help protect our national parks and public lands from the dangers of methane pollution. These new rules provide cost-effective solutions to protect national park air quality and ensure the American taxpayer gets a fair return for their resources.”