House panel approves DeGette’s Methane Waste bill

Apr 28, 2021
Press Release
Measure now heads to full House for a vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Committee today approved legislation by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to reduce the amount of methane gas that’s released on our public lands.

Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases on the planet and when it’s released into our atmosphere it becomes a leading contributor to the ongoing climate crisis. 

Nearly one-third of all methane gas released in the U.S. comes from the production of oil and gas. 

DeGette’s legislation, which the committee approved by a vote of 24-19, would set strict new standards that require oil and gas producers operating on public lands to capture more of the methane that reaches the surface of their drilling sites. 

“If we’re going to be serious about staving off the worst effects of this climate change, we’re going to have to get serious about cutting the amount of methane that’s being released into the atmosphere,” DeGette said at today’s hearing prior to the vote on her bill.

Specifically, the legislation – which now heads to the full House for a vote – would require drillers operating on public lands to capture 99 percent of all gas that reaches the surface of their sites starting as early as 2026. It would also ban the controversial practices of flaring and venting of natural gas on public lands; and set new standards for equipment and repairs to minimize leaks. 

Because methane is the main component of natural gas it is more than just a harmful pollutant, it’s also a finite, valuable natural resource that – when captured – can be used to heat homes and power businesses across the country. 

According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas producers on public and Indian lands flared, vented and leaked enough natural gas to supply over 6 million households for a year – costing taxpayers as much as $23 million per year in lost revenue.

The measure approved today is a key part of a broader bill DeGette introduced earlier this year, known as the Methane Waste Prevention Act.

Below is a summary of DeGette’s Methane Waste Prevention Act. The House Natural Resources Committee voted today to advance Section 3. Section 2 of the bill falls under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and will be considered separately.

Video of DeGette’s remarks at today’s hearing prior to the vote is available here: https://youtu.be/J2nKCGO6kiY

A copy of the legislation is available here.

 

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 – 

o    by 2025, the methane emissions will be at least 65 percent below 2012 emissions; and

o    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.