Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trump's government may not like Obama's new gas rule

A gas flare is seen at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D. in 2015. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

The Washington Post's Chris Rooney reports

The Interior Department on Tuesday finalized a much anticipated new regulation aimed at the oil and gas industry, one that seeks to capture flared natural gas and corral “fugitive” emissions of methane that are escaping drilling operations on public and Native American lands.

The agency argues that large volumes of gas are being lost through practices such as venting and flaring — burning off some of the gas as it arises from a well — as well as inadvertent leaks. And given that these fossil fuel resources are being gathered from public lands, the department says it’s incumbent on companies to take precautions not to lose them — especially since methane released into the atmosphere also worsens climate change. (Natural gas is mostly methane.)

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The Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management, which will implement the rule, argues such “waste” actually deprives taxpayers of royalty revenue gathered from oil and gas operations. The agency says the policy, which requires cutbacks in gas flaring, more inspections for leaks, and in some cases the installation of new equipment, will reduce methane emissions by 175,000 to 180,000 tons annually.
“We are proving that we can cut harmful methane emissions that contribute to climate change, while putting in place standards that make good economic sense for the nation,” said Interior department secretary Sally Jewell in a statement. “Not only will we save more natural gas to power our nation, but we will modernize decades-old standards to keep pace with industry and to ensure a fair return to the American taxpayers for use of a valuable resource that belongs to all of us.”
The new rule lands just weeks before a Trump administration takes over with plans to deregulate much of the energy industry.

“We will lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities,” pledges the Trump transition website. “It’s all upside: more jobs, more revenues, more wealth, higher wages, and lower energy prices.”
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