House Republicans prefer pipeline permit reforms to BLM methane rule

Fifty-seven Republican members of the US House of Representatives, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (Utah), urged US Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell to have the US Bureau of Land Management withdraw its proposed methane venting and flaring rule, and concentrate on improving permit application reviews for pipelines and gathering lines instead.

“This rule adds another layer of duplicative federal regulation on top of already existing federal and state regulations. [It] overlaps BLM’s regulatory jurisdiction, and completely fails to address crucial failures by BLM to capture methane emissions through common sense methods such as timely right-of-way permitting,” they said in a July 27 letter.

Their recommendation came soon after a Government Accountability Office report found that existing reporting guidance for oil and gas onshore operators on federal land does not provide specific guidance for reporting gas emissions, provides limited guidance on which categories to use when reporting flaring or venting, and does not specify which gas emissions should be reported (OGJ Online, July 27, 2016).

“We are concerned that BLM has rushed forward to finalize new methane emissions measures as a solution in search of a problem,” the House GOP members said in their letter. “Unfortunately, these regulations fail to address BLM’s permitting delays for natural gas gathering line rights-of-way.”

Facilitating construction of more of these lines is the best method for capturing methane emissions at the wellhead, they maintained.

“According to the BLM manual, [the agency] aims for a 60-day permit review so companies can construct pipelines,” the letter continued. “Yet in data submitted by BLM itself to the House Natural Resources Committee, not a single field office has been able to meet this target. In many cases, BLM is taking more than 6 months to process a permit. This is unacceptable.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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