The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Senate Should Repeal BLM Venting, Flaring Rule

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 1, 1

The U.S. Senate has until next week to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s flawed “venting and flaring” rule, which could put at risk energy production and important progress on reducing emissions. Though senators leading the repeal effort say it will advance, a close vote looms. It shouldn’t be.

BLM’s rule is redundant and technically flawed. Already it may be wreaking negative economic impacts, and it’s a disincentive to domestic energy production that advances America’s overall security interests. The Senate should follow the House’s lead and use CRA to repeal the rule immediately instead of having BLM undo its rule, a process that could take months.

Voting for repeal should be a no-brainer. Highlights of the case for repeal right now:

  • There’s a risk of negative impacts, especially in some western states. An analysis done when the rule was proposed found that the added cost of compliance could result in the permanent shutting-in of up to 40 percent of wells that flare on federal lands.
  • Even a royalty loss of 1 percent would result in lost revenues to the federal government of more than $14 million, based on 2016 royalties reported by the Office Natural Resources Revenue.
  • Industry already is reducing methane emissions without another layer of red tape from BLM. EPA’s 2017 inventory of greenhouse gases shows that methane emissions from natural gas systems and petroleum systems both fell from 2014 to 2015 (the report’s last data year). Since 1990, methane emissions from natural gas systems are down 16.3 percent, while emissions from petroleum systems are down 28.1 percent, EPA reports.

BLM’s rule may only worsen oil and natural gas production on federal lands – the trends seen in this chart that compares federal with non-federal output:


The impact of decreased federal production on federal revenues is real, with collections falling more than $400 million from 2010 to 2015. API estimates that if production on federal lands had grown at the same rate as overall U.S. production from 2010 to 2015, total royalties would have been 29 percent higher, with an additional $4.9 billion in royalties collected by the federal government. Conversely, adding regulatory hurdles only hinders investment and production on federal lands.

Deterring production of cleaner-burning natural gas – which is being accompanied by reduced methane emissions – impacts progress on carbon dioxide emissions form electricity generation, which are at their lowest level in nearly 30 years, mostly because of increased use of natural gas:


Industry is committed to responsible development and reducing emissions – shown in the reality of lower emissions. This is the result of a proactive approach to innovating and advancing the technologies that have been effective reducing emissions. Innovation – not unnecessary, duplicative regulation – is the source of this success.

It’s time for the Senate to take action that will clear away an unnecessary impediment to increased U.S. energy development that is benefiting consumers, boosting the economy and strengthening American energy security. Repeal BLM’s venting and flaring rule.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.