Chair Grijalva, Rep. DeGette: Tightening Methane Emissions Through the EPA Makes Sense, and It’s Time to Do the Same for Our Public Lands

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said today that the House of Representatives is right to tighten Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards for methane, as it is expected to do with the forthcoming Congressional Review Act vote, and that Congress should similarly tighten the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) methane standard for fossil fuel drillers on public lands.

BLM is charged with guaranteeing public value in the use of public resources, and the emission of methane is economically wasteful as well as a threat to public health that fuels the climate crisis. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, taxpayers annually lose as much as $23 million in royalty revenues because of wasted natural gas from public lands.

Their remarks come as the House of Representatives prepares to vote today to eliminate a weak Trump-era EPA methane standard that did not protect public health and was widely seen as a clear giveaway to polluting industries. The Natural Resources Committee passed Rep. DeGette’s Methane Waste Prevention Act on April 28.

Under the terms of DeGette’s bill, the EPA is required to restrict national methane emissions from the oil and gas sector to 65 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, and 90 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. The bill requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to issue new rules to ban the controversial practices of flaring and venting natural gas at drill sites across the country, and requires oil and gas operations on public lands to capture 99 percent of all produced gas within five years of the bill’s enactment. 

“Today’s vote is a step toward protecting our air quality, our climate stability and our public health, but the case for methane standards doesn’t end there,” Grijalva said. “Congress needs to pass strict limits on methane emissions from fossil fuel drilling on public lands, and the Natural Resources Committee did its part by passing Rep. DeGette’s bill back in April. The Senate needs to act now to protect public money, limit needless waste of public resources, and make sure BLM is carrying out its mission as originally intended.”

“If we're going to be serious about combating this climate crisis, we have to take steps now to cut the amount of methane in our atmosphere,” DeGette said. “This legislation will keep more than 1.6 million tons of methane out of the air that we all breathe. And it will require oil and gas companies to take the steps necessary to better protect our planet – and the public’s health – by reinstating the Obama-era methane standards that were put in place in 2016. Getting this legislation approved today is a big win in our overall effort to combat the climate crisis, and a critical first step toward sufficiently reducing our nation’s overall methane emissions.”

Congress needs to act to prevent future administrations from backsliding to the Trump-era regime of ignoring methane pollution and letting companies freely vent, leak and emit methane from public lands. Republicans and the fossil fuel industry often cherry-pick EPA data to argue that companies have reduced methane emissions in recent decades, but the reduction has been driven almost entirely by processing, transmission and distribution. Emissions from production activities have increased by nearly 35 percent since 1990.

The U.S. is the fourth-largest source of gas flaring in the world, after Russia, Iraq and Iran, and each year the U.S. Permian and Bakken fields flare roughly the same amount of gas that residents of New York consume annually. Between 2017 and 2019, gas flaring in the Permian increased by 65 percent.

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana (Grijalva)

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile

Jane Fillion (DeGette)