Republicans push back on Interior methane leak plan

Republicans push back on Interior methane leak plan
© Getty Images

House Republicans want the Interior Department to drop plans to regulate methane emissions on federal lands. 

In a Wednesday letter to Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone Blind focus on ‘energy dominance’ may cripple Endangered Species Act MORE, Republicans said the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lacks the power to regulate emissions from oil and gas drilling wells, and that it should instead work to more quickly approve transmission lines to get natural gas on the market.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This rule adds another layer of duplicative federal regulation on top of already existing federal and state regulations,” said the letter, led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopSenate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks Republicans push back at first climate hearings Climate change on front burner after 8 years of GOP rule MORE (R-Utah) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). 

“The rule oversteps BLM’s regulatory jurisdiction and completely fails to address crucial failures by the BLM to capture methane emissions through common sense methods such as timely right-of-way permitting. For these reasons, we urge the agency to withdraw this misguided effort.”

The Interior Department released new methane standards for oil and natural gas drilling on federal land in January, looking to restrict accidental or deliberate methane leaks at sites and restricting the burning, or flaring, of gas that isn’t captured there. 

The rule is part of a government-wide effort to restrict leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas and a powerful greenhouse gas. 

Opponents of the effort, including Republicans and the drilling industry, say drillers have done a good job of restricting emissions on their own, and that they have a financial incentive to capture as much methane as they can by delivering natural gas to market. Republicans’ call for quicker permitting of transmission lines is a component of that argument. 

“BLM should continue to work collaboratively to drive more innovative technologies that build upon existing methane emissions decreases, while also promulgating common sense reforms to address the ongoing delays that plague the current right-of-way permitting process,” the Republicans wrote.