GAO Says Feds Should Strengthen Federal-Land Methane Accounting
The Interior Department needs to take numerous steps to improve the way it measures methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells on federal land, a watchdog report found.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found numerous problems and inconsistencies in the instructions the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gives to companies to report their methane emissions.
“As a result of these limitations, Interior may not have a consistent accounting of natural gas emissions from onshore federal leases and does not have the information it needs to reasonably ensure it is minimizing waste on these leases,” the report said. For example, around 90% of the requests that companies submitted to deliberately vent or flare gas did not meet the agency’s standards for documentation, though most were approved.
Furthermore, the BLM offices have inconsistent policies regarding whether companies should pay royalties for the vented or flared gas.
Methane is the main component in natural gas, and is a potent greenhouse gas. Interior is legally required to waste to a minimum, in order to ensure the maximum taxpayer return.
The BLM is working on a new regulation to reduce methane emissions, which it expects to clear up many of the problems the GAO report found.