New analysis shows near-unanimous public opposition to eviscerating the BLM Methane Waste Rule

Apr 23, 2018

APRIL 23, 2018

New analysis shows near-unanimous public opposition to eviscerating the BLM Methane Waste Rule

As public comment period draws to a close, hundreds of thousands of Americans tell Ryan Zinke to not allow more venting and flaring of publicly-owned natural gas

DENVER—With hours remaining in the public comment period on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to gut the Methane Waste Rule, a new analysis of comments posted to shows near-unanimous opposition to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plans.

As of Monday afternoon, BLM had received more than 407,000 comments on the proposed rule change, with over 130,000 of those comments posted online.

The Center for Western Priorities performed a sentiment analysis on a random sample of 2,000 of those comments, and found 99.8 percent of them were opposed to the proposed rollback of the Methane Waste Rule. Just 0.2 percent of the public comments encouraged Secretary Zinke to move forward with his plans to allow more venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands.

“Secretary Zinke is going to need a pair of earplugs to drown out the overwhelming opposition to his plan to undermine safeguards that limit methane waste from oil and gas wells on public lands,” said Jesse Prentice-Dunn, advocacy director at the Center for Western Priorities. “He asked what Americans thought of his proposal and their response is loud and clear: More than 99 percent of public comments asked the Interior Secretary to keep these common sense rules. The only rational response to this overwhelming public sentiment is to uphold existing methane waste rules and end the industry-driven assault on even the most reasonable protections.”

Secretary Zinke’s proposal would eviscerate the Methane Waste Rule, an Obama-era policy that required oil and gas companies to capture and pay royalties on methane produced during oil drilling. Methane is the primary constituent in natural gas. Before the rule, drillers could vent or burn off that methane, a practice that contributed to climate change and denied American taxpayers of the value of publicly-owned methane.

A congressional attempt to repeal the Methane Waste Rule failed in May 2017 on a bipartisan vote. Despite this, Secretary Zinke moved ahead with an industry-backed proposal that would eliminate the key provisions of the rule. The public comment period on Zinke’s proposal opened in February 2018. Zinke has previously ignored overwhelming public comments in support of national monuments and bipartisan sage-grouse protection plans.

Methodology: The Center for Western Priorities downloaded all 131,502 comments posted to the docket as of 10:30 am MT Monday. 2,000 of those comments were selected at random and each was individually analyzed for support or opposition to the proposed BLM Methane Waste Rule change. The analysis has a margin of error of ¬±2.2%. CWP’s full analysis toolchain is available on request.