After Receiving Commitment from Interior Secretary to Tackle Methane Emissions, Portman to Support CRA Resolution

May 8, 2017 | Press Releases

Interior Secretary Commits to Portman that the Department Will Act to Reduce Methane Waste Without Hurting Job Creation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced he would support a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to repeal the Obama administration’s methane rule after receiving a commitment from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the U.S. Department of the Interior would take significant steps to reduce methane waste:

“I believe our energy policy must be balanced. We can protect our environment and conserve taxpayer resources while still protecting the jobs and livelihoods of middle-class families. And I’ve done that—with legislation I’ve authored that is now law that promotes energy efficiency, supports our national parks, and cleans up Lake Erie. 

“Unfortunately, the previous Administration’s methane rule was not a balanced approach.  As written, it would have hurt our economy and cost jobs in Ohio by forcing small independent operators to close existing wells and slowing responsible energy production on federal lands.  There’s a better way.

“I believe that the Interior Department should do more to prevent methane venting and flaring on federal lands. The Secretary of the Interior has made clear in a letter to me that the Department is committed to acting on this important issue going forward, and he has outlined specific actions it would take to do that.  Absent this commitment, the Department would have rescinded this methane rule with no guarantee that it would take any action to better protect our environment in the future.  I’m pleased that the Department has made a commitment to act on this important issue, and I will hold the agency accountable to ensure that it does.”

NOTE: On May 1, Portman sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting that the Department of the Interior make a commitment to take significant steps to reduce methane waste without hurting job creation.  In the letter, Portman outlined his concerns about the Obama Administration’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, but made clear he believed the Department has the authority and responsibility to reduce and minimize methane waste.  On May 4, Secretary Zinke responded to Portman’s letter stating, “The Department is committed to reducing methane waste and, under my leadership, will take significant steps to accomplish this goal.”  In his letter, the Secretary committed to:

  • Review all methane venting and flaring requirements to ensure the industry conserves resources and prevents waste and to ensure that the taxpayer receives the fair value of royalties. This includes reviewing policies such as criteria for approving venting and flaring, venting and flaring thresholds, venting and flaring time limits, beneficial use requirements, and royalty requirements;
  • Strengthen policies to encourage companies to capture and conserve methane for beneficial uses at the well site. Beneficial uses include generating power, powering equipment, and compressing or treating methane;
  • Revise existing BLM restrictions on the flaring of unmarketable methane from oil wells;
  • Look for ways to incentivize the conservation of unsold methane by reinjection into the existing well for enhanced oil recovery or for later recovery;
    • Expedite rights-of-way approvals and remove regulatory obstacles so methane pipeline infrastructure can be built; and
    • Eliminate BLM policies that conflict with or duplicate flaring restrictions in states like North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana.