DeGette reintroduces plan to cut methane waste by U.S. oil and gas producers

Mar 2, 2021
Press Release
Proposal would ban practice of flaring, venting on U.S. public lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to address one of the leading contributors to the ongoing climate crisis, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) reintroduced legislation today to limit the amount of methane gas that U.S. oil and gas producers can release into the atmosphere. 

Climate scientists agree that reducing methane in our atmosphere is key to solving the climate crisis. And, here in the U.S., nearly one-third of all methane released into the atmosphere comes from the production of oil and gas. 

If approved, DeGette’s legislation – known as the Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021 – would require the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management to set strict new standards limiting the amount of methane that oil and gas producers can release into the atmosphere from their drilling sites.

Under the terms of DeGette’s bill, oil and gas producers would be required to take steps to cut their methane emissions by at least 65 percent by 2025; and by at least 90 percent below their 2012 emissions by 2030. 

“All across our country, oil and gas producers are releasing tons of methane into our atmosphere where it’s causing real harm to our environment and exacerbating the climate crisis,” said DeGette, who serves as chair of the House Energy and Commerce oversight panel. “There’s no reason why these companies shouldn’t be required to capture more of the gas they produce at these sites so we can put it to use and help combat this worsening crisis. As I’ve said many times now, if we’re going to be serious about solving the climate crisis, we have to get serious about preventing the amount of methane that’s being pumped into our atmosphere.”  

In addition to cutting methane emissions, the legislation also seeks to prevent the waste of natural gas by oil producers operating on public lands. 

Specifically, the bill would require the Department of Interior to issue new rules to ban the controversial practice of flaring or venting of natural gas at drill sites across the country. It would also require oil and gas producers operating on public lands to capture 99 percent of all natural gas brought to the surface within five years of the bill’s enactment. 

Natural gas is a valuable, finite natural resource that can be used to heat homes and power businesses across the country. The technologies and practices that would likely be put in place to prevent methane waste as a result of the legislation would also prevent the release of other toxic air pollutants and help prevent smog.

A copy of the legislation introduced today is available here.

Following is a section-by-section summary of the bill: 

 

Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)

Section-by-section summary

The Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021 will require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to update their respective methane waste prevention requirements. Here is a section-by-section summary of the Act:

Section 1. Short Title

Section 2. Controlling Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Sector.

· The Act will establish as national goals the steady reduction of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and natural gas sector such that—

  • by 2025, the methane emissions will be at least 65 percent below 2012 emissions; and
  • by 2030, the methane emissions will be at least 90 percent below 2012 emissions.

· The EPA will promulgate regulations to achieve these goals under its existing Clean Air Act authority. 

· The EPA regulations will apply to every segment of oil and natural gas systems, including oil and natural gas production, processing, transmission, distribution, and storage.

· In carrying out this program, the EPA will ensure that any new distribution infrastructure is compatible with the distribution of hydrogen.

Section 3. Gas Waste Reduction and Enhancement of Gas Measuring and Reporting on Public Lands.

· The Department of the Interior (DOI) will issue new rules to reduce the waste of natural gas from Federal leases and to increase reporting requirements for new and existing wells. 

· Gas Waste Reduction: To reduce the waste of natural gas via venting, flaring, and leaks on public lands, the rules will require:

  • The capture of 85 percent of all gas produced on public lands within 3 years of enactment, and 99 percent of gas within 5 years;
  • An end to the venting of natural gas;
  • No flaring from new wells, effective 2 years after enactment; and
  • Establishment of equipment and operation standards to minimize gas leakage and the establishment of mandatory leak detection and repair procedures.

· Gas Measuring, Reporting, and Transparency: To better track the volumes of gas lost by venting, flaring, and leaks, the rules will: 

  • Establish more stringent requirements for reporting production and disposition volumes;
  • Make the data publicly available via the internet;
  • Require the Secretary to report to Congress detailing the actual amounts of wasted gas from federal lands;
  • Require the Secretary to recommend additional rules necessary to further limit venting, flaring, and leaks; and 
  • Authorize additional penalties for entities violating the standards, including production restrictions or market-proportional fines.