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$360 million worth of gas wasted on U.S. public and tribal lands

Staff writer ▼ | June 24, 2015
An analysis by ICF International for the Environmental Defense Fund shows that oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands are squandering an amount of natural gas worth more than $360 million each year.
U.S. natural gas
Analysis   ICF International for Environmental Defense Fund
Companies are wasting a valuable public asset and generating harmful pollution. The problem occurs when gas is either burned off, intentionally vented, or leaked from well sites and other oil and gas infrastructure on federal and tribal lands in the U.S.

The report comes as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), responsible for managing public land resources, prepares to release new rules for oil and gas operators on venting, flaring, and other waste.

According to the analysis, oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands emitted over 1 million tons of methane in 2013, representing about 12 percent of the nation's methane emissions.

Gas production operations on federal and tribal lands represented approximately 21 percent of national emissions from gas production, even though these lands account for only 14 percent of gas production.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe, and is often accompanied by other local air pollutants. Because methane is the main component of natural gas, it also represents a waste of an energy resource every time it is released from the supply chain unburned.

The ICF analysis found that Western states tended to have higher emissions from oil and gas activity on federal and tribal lands, due to the fact that natural gas production on federal and tribal lands is largely concentrated in Western states.

New Mexico and Wyoming reported the highest methane emissions on federal lands, with Utah the largest emitter on tribal lands. High emissions were also seen in Colorado and California.

Despite its small amount of public land, Pennsylvania showed methane emissions on par with some Western states, due to its volume of natural gas activity on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.