Groups demand a flaring rule that keeps fossil fuels in the ground

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In joint comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule on flaring and venting, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth requested a final rule that truly reflects the urgency of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

The rule is intended to limit the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas on public lands, but the groups are arguing that minimizing waste is not enough. Keeping the world below 1.5° Celsius means acting aggressively to not only stop waste and methane leakage, but to stop new leasing altogether.

The joint comments said, “When considering the climate consequences of federal oil and gas operations, the most straightforward and effective alternative involves not only reduction of venting, leakage, and waste on existing leases, but also cessation of new fossil fuel leasing.” 

Ceasing new leasing on public lands is a crucial step to meeting our climate goals, and remains well within the bounds of executive authority.

“We need to manage leasing on our public lands as though a livable climate actually matters,” said Lukas Ross, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, “That doesn’t mean being less wasteful with a fuel that needs to stay in the ground. That means actually leaving the fuel where it is now.” 

“Although the BLM’s long-overdue proposal is a positive step toward reducing the enormous methane pollution and waste that the oil industry is spewing from our public lands, its unnecessary exemptions and loopholes don’t adequately respond to the urgent need to act on climate change,” said Michael Saul, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The best way to prevent climate pollution from our public lands is just to stop auctioning off these ecologically important areas to oil companies. If we are to have any hope of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, we simply must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground.”

While the groups argued that BLM should end new leasing altogether, they also added that the proposed rule needs to be much more aggressive if it hopes to truly address flaring and venting. In outlining a framework for a stronger final rule, the groups suggested limiting exceptions to the proposed flaring caps, using land-use planning authority to limit waste, and injecting the social cost of carbon into royalty-setting decisions.

Source: Friends of the Earth