Voices for Action

The oil and gas industry is tying itself in rhetorical knots trying to kill BLM methane policies

By Jon Goldstein, Senior Policy Manager

The American Petroleum Institute’s Colorado branch recently held a press conference in a tired attempt to spread misinformation about Bureau of Land Management efforts to prevent private companies from wasting millions of dollars of natural gas that belongs to Colorado taxpayers and Native American Tribes.  

API claimed that BLM’s efforts would kill jobs – despite having absolutely zero evidence to back that up. In fact, when questioned before congress earlier this year, the Jack Gerard, President of API was pressed on this question and failed to produce any evidence that efforts to curb the waste of natural gas and methane emissions would hurt job growth, and one report shows that jobs in the methane mitigation industry would actually benefit. 

The industry lobbyists also claimed it would cost $400 million to implement BLM’s policies, again without providing any facts or evidence to support the assertion.  Officials at BLM who actually assembled data and received thousands of comments from industry and other stakeholders estimate the rules would cost only a fraction of that, around $125 million (or slightly more than oil and gas companies spend on lobbying each year). 

If this hyperbole sounds familiar it’s because these groups made the same false claims about costs in 2014 when Colorado was adopting its policies to reduce natural gas leaks. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association consistently claimed it would cost $100 million to stop gas leaks in the state — more than double what state experts predicted.  Fortunately for Coloradans, the rules were adopted anyway and have turned out to be a tremendous success.  Regulators have received zero complaints from operators about the costs of compliance and the industry continues to thrive in the state.  And in a recent survey, the vast majority of Colorado producers interviewed found these rules to be very cost-effective.

Another interesting wrinkle here is API argues that BLM’s efforts to curb natural gas waste aren’t needed because Colorado is already addressing the problem – and these kinds of issues are better left to the states.  Readers should remember that while industry leaders such as Noble Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Encana partnered with EDF in support of the Colorado rules, the trade associations including COGA and CPA opposed them strongly.

Without BLM action, the state will continue to lose revenue, and communities on Colorado’s West Slope and the Four Corners will continue to be impacted by pollution from poorly regulated production in the neighboring states of New Mexico and Utah.  Colorado taxpayers deserve action to reduce methane waste. These federal rules will help cut waste that totals more than $1.5 billion and counting since 2013. And recent polling shows that 83% of Coloradans agree, they want the BLM’s strong waste reduction rule that protects their resources to stand.

It’s no wonder that several Republican Senators, including Colorado’s Cory Gardner, are reportedly on the fence on this repeal. They should recognize that a Congressional Review Act resolution would not only roll back the BLM rule, it could permanently stifle the agency’s ability to take similar action in the future.  The CRA rollback is the wrong choice for Colorado and a bad deal for taxpayers all across the U.S.