Report: Methane emissions on federal lands rising significantly

Methane releases from energy production federal lands have risen dramatically in recent years, according to a report from the Center for American Progress (CAP).

CAP estimated that venting and flaring, two processes used to release natural gas that cannot be contained or transported due to infrastructure limits, grew 135 percent between 2008 and 2013 on federal land.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Monday report showed venting and flaring emissions growing in each of those years.

It stands in contrast to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data that show methane emissions from natural gas production in all areas declining in recent years.

“The rising volume of taxpayer-owned gas that is being wasted is not only costing tens of millions of dollars in lost royalty payments, but it’s putting dangerous amounts of methane pollution into our air,” Matt Lee-Ashley, director of CAP’s public lands project, said in a statement.

“Industry should be required to use readily available technology to reduce methane pollution and to pay royalties on any taxpayer-owned gas that is wasted,” he said.

CAP conducted the research alongside the Wilderness Society.

Methane is the main component of natural gas and the second most common greenhouse gas. Its effect on global warming is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide's.

CAP found that venting and flaring are responsible for about 40 percent of total methane emissions throughout the natural gas production and refining process.

The Interior Department is currently working on hydraulic fracturing rules for federal lands that will likely include venting and flaring rules.

“The administration and the Bureau of Land Management need to strongly regulate the amount of methane emissions that can be traced to our nation’s public lands and make sure that the energy extraction industry wastes significantly less of the nation’s energy,” Chase Huntley, director of government affairs for the Wilderness Society, said in a statement.