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Federal Land Management Agency’s Duplicative Regulation Acts in Opposition to Its ‘Stated’ Purpose

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2016 -

Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on a recent regulation issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding methane on federal lands.

While the BLM has no authority under the Clean Air Act, the rule proposes to greatly expand BLM’s existing regulations to include duplicative measures that further regulate methane emissions under the Mineral Leasing Act.

Oil and natural gas production has increased dramatically on state and private lands while methane emissions have simultaneously decreased. Further, industry has invested billions in infrastructure to increase gas capture rates. 

"Federal regulations, like the BLM’s venting and flaring rule that we are examining today, is of such concern to our state and many others," stated Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO). "Particularly when you examine all of the work that states like Colorado have already done to limit methane emissions from oil and gas facilities."

The BLM’s bureaucratic delays for pipeline rights-of-way permit approvals are a major contributing factor to methane flaring. The BLM manual says they aim to process rights-of-way permits within 60 days. However, according to data the BLM submitted to the Committee, this isn’t the case. Not a single area has met the 60-day deadline.

“Here’s the problem. The BLM is crafting a rule to restrict and prohibit certain activities relating to varying flaring and venting and yet the way to stop it is to build pipelines. Yet the BLM’s pipeline rights-of-way delays are part of the problem. Their goal is to have a 60-day pipeline rights-of-way grant. In my state of Wyoming, by the way, it’s two weeks on state land unless there’s sage grouse involved then it takes a little longer. Every state on this list far exceeds the 60-day threshold. New Mexico being the worst. It’s not 60 days, it’s six months. In many of these other states it’s twice the 60-day limit that they have placed on themselves,” Vice Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) said.

Shawn Bolton, Rio Blanco County Commissioner, discussed the impact of these burdensome regulations, highlighting the stark contrast between production on federal and private lands.

The BLM is consistently adding layers of bureaucracy to handicap oil and gas producers. It appears that the BLM’s focus is to drive more and more operators from federal lands. There is a direct correlation between the impact of the BLM’s overreaching, needless regulations and energy production on federal lands, which already lags far behind production on privately held lands,” Bolton stated.

The panel outlined how the new rule will undercut industry progress to further reduce emissions, result in lost tax royalties, massive compliance costs and far-reaching adverse impacts on the ability of states to administer existing regulatory programs.

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 impacts from this loss are expected to extend throughout the entire 30 year development life of the Bakken, Director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms said.

Click here to view the full witness testimony. 

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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