Western Coalition of BLM Venting and Flaring Opposition

by Ryan Streams, Manager of Regulatory Affairs on February 1, 2017 - 10:02am

Given Western Energy Alliance’s status as a plaintiff against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) venting and flaring rule, our opposition to it comes as no surprise. The rule clearly usurps air quality regulatory authority that rightly resides with states and EPA. It’s an economic disaster that will cost the West $1.26 billion in lost wages, oil and natural gas production, and tax revenue. The entire rule is based on flawed scientific, engineering, and economic assumptions that call into question BLM’s entire justification.

Western Energy Alliance is far from the only voice expressing concern over BLM’s rule. A bi-partisan coalition of western states also question BLM’s actions. But you don’t need to take our word for it. Here it is in their own words:

State of Wyoming, Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

“The proposed rules will have a direct and substantial impact on Wyoming and other states that produced federal minerals and the BLM should be required to perform a federalism assessment… these new rules will provide a disincentive to develop federal minerals and the BLM must discuss and evaluate the way in which these rules will impact the states.”

“The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) is concerned that the proposed rule will result in duplicative and conflicting rules and enforcement within the state.”

“Both the WOGCC and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division have been successfully regulating air emissions in Wyoming and we resent the implication that BLM can provide superior regulation and enforcement practices for air emissions in Wyoming.”

Link to full letter

State of Utah, Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office

“One of the State’s primary concerns is that BLM is seeking a national one-size-fits-all solution to a gas flaring problem that is occurring in a few states… the economic cost-benefit analysis prepared by BLM fails to consider Utah’s distinctive circumstances.”

“Utah is already recognized as having strict limits for gas venting and flaring… thus, State experts are capable of addressing venting and flaring and leak detection and repair requirements without expanded federal rulemaking by BLM.”

“[T]he proposed rule gives BLM authority without accountability and lacks proper cooperation with existing state regulatory agencies. Therefore, the State recommends that BLM reconsider moving forward with the proposed rule and allow the EPA to address air pollution and emissions.”

Link to full letter

State of New Mexico, State Lands Office

“[T]he BLM again seeks to infringe upon the authority of the New Mexico State Lands Office (NMSLO) and insert itself into the permitting and regulatory process in ways detrimental to the NMSLO.”

“[T]he fact that BLM did not conduct a federalism assessment would strongly indicate that the agency is aware of such potential for intrusion into the affairs of the states that the proposed rule presents and has chosen to not to [sic] undertake a federalism assessment, so as not to highlight this obvious shortfall in the proposed rule.”

“The BLM’s proposal to increase regulatory authority and infringe on the ability of the NMSLO to efficiently administer its own assets would cause direct harm to the school children of New Mexico and will lead to negative environmental impacts on state trust lands at a time when the trust is already vulnerable due to a severe and prolonged downturn in the hydrocarbon market.”

Link to full letter

State of North Dakota, Industrial Commission

“Implementation of this rule will result in an anticipated loss in state revenue from royalties and taxes estimated to be $24 million per year. The impact from this loss is expected to last through the entire 30 year development life of the Bakken.”

“The proposed rule duplicates North Dakota's requirement for gas capture plans in part, but the required information under the proposed rule is not entirely consistent with the North Dakota regulations. This requirement could create a direct conflict with North Dakota's ability to administer its oil and gas regulatory program.”

“The potential adverse impacts of the proposed rule on North Dakota's ability to administer its oil and gas regulatory program are many and the State of North Dakota intends to defend its sovereign jurisdiction over oil and gas regulation in any manner necessary.”

Link to full letter

State of Montana, Board of Oil and Gas Conservation

“Increased regulatory requirements and costs due to the presence of federal mineral interests will directly impact private and state lands within units and communitized areas, as well as lands located in proximity to federal minerals. Exploration programs may be designed to avoid federal minerals, impacting not only federal interests but also any excluded private or state interests.”

“Montana statutes require efficient and orderly development of oil and gas resources. Orderly development also allows consideration and minimization of the environmental impacts from oil and gas resource extraction. Regulations that favor or hinder development based upon mineral ownership are not conducive to orderly development.”

“It is our belief that the authority for the Bureau of Land Management to develop emissions-based regulations is questionable, [and] the announced EPA action to address methane emissions is a more correct solution”

Link to full letter

State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment and Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

“Colorado believes that requiring its oil and gas industry to comply with the proposed BLM rule in addition to Colorado’s [leak detection and repair] program could result in considerable administrative effort for all parties for little, if any, demonstrated additional environmental benefit.”

“[T]he limits proposed in [the venting prohibition] and the extensive information requirements of [gas capture] for alternative [flaring] limits may prove to be overly burdensome and less effective at reducing waste than a case-by-case approach.”

Link to full letter