What Independent Producers Are Saying: The Unworkable BLM Venting and Flaring Rule Must Go

What Independent Producers Are Saying: The Unworkable BLM Venting and Flaring Rule Must Go

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider a joint resolution of disapproval on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule on “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” – commonly referred to as the BLM Venting and Flaring Rule.

Last week, Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) President and CEO Barry Russell sent a letter, on behalf of all U.S. independent producers that develop 90 percent of America’s oil and natural gas wells, to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) outlining producers’ long-held concerns with the federal rule. In the letter, Russell wrote:

“Over the course of this rulemaking, IPAA has consistently outlined our concerns that this rule is unnecessary. We believe the BLM ignored substantive [industry] information in favor of pushing through an environmental agenda as part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan. This regulation, released at the eleventh hour by the Obama Administration, will impact the ability of independent oil and natural gas producers to operate on federal lands… While there are many aspects of this rule that are flawed, none is more blatant than the lack of authority the BLM has under the Minerals Leasing Act to regulate methane emissions.”

As the House debate begins on this overreaching regulation, America’s independent producers have weighed in:

Concho Resources
“The Venting and Flaring Rule would disrupt existing oil and gas operations and deter investment in new exploration and development, jeopardizing current jobs, impeding new hiring, and reducing vitally needed economic activity and tax revenues that support critically important state and local government services…”

Encana Oil & Gas, Inc.
“[W]e are concerned that this rule will further delay permitting on federal lands. In an atmosphere where agencies have limited financial resources and staff, we believe BLM should focus on their multiple use mission, including improving oil and gas permitting, not further delaying it.”

Excalibur Resources, LLC
“[T]his proposed overreach is clearly duplicative with the, already onerous, EPA OOOOa regulations… The one thing that should never be tolerated is excessive, unnecessary and in this case duplicative regulation.”

Whiting Petroleum Corporation
“BLM’s creation of regulations which duplicate EPA regulations serves only to inhibit production and impede capital investment in energy production on federal and tribal lands… The CRA is key to unleashing America’s full economic potential.”

Two months before the Obama administration left office, the BLM hastily published a final rule regulating venting and flaring from oil and natural gas operations on federal and tribal lands. Independent producers – American small businesses with an average of 15 employees – repeatedly shared their concerns with and provided industry data to the Obama administration during every step of the rulemaking process and in several follow-up meetings with federal regulators, but the concerns were disregarded. IPAA and Western Energy Alliance were forced to file a legal challenge against the Obama administration’s BLM in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming, calling BLM’s rule a broad new air quality regime that goes beyond authority granted by Congress. In a recent court briefing, District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl indicated his belief that the rule is heavily focused on emissions reductions, which lies outside the purview of BLM authority. The court case on the merits of the industry’s challenge is still ongoing.

IPAA commends the House Committee on Natural Resources and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) for their leadership and persistent oversight on this federal regulatory overreach, which has become a critical issue for and could negatively impact the jobs of thousands of American independent oil and natural gas producers across the nation.

About the Independent Petroleum Association of America
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) is a national upstream trade association representing thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States. Independent producers develop 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells. These companies account for 54 percent of America’s oil production, 85 percent of its natural gas production, and support over 2.1 million American jobs. Learn more about IPAA by visiting www.ipaa.org and following @IPAAaccess on Twitter.

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Neal Kirby