Rep. Lipinski's Bill to Require Full Payment of Royalties on Methane Removed from Public Lands Gets a Boost from New Interior Department Plan (January 22, 2016)

Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (IL-3) bill that would lead to a more efficient use of natural resources, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and relief for American taxpayers was buoyed today with the release of the Department of Interior’s (DOI) proposal to require the capture of methane emissions from drilling on public lands.  Methane is over 25 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and recent studies from the Environmental Defense Fund show methane emissions from production sites are higher than previously thought.  According to a University of Maryland study, emissions of natural gas from production sites can negatively impact air quality hundreds of miles away. 

Last year, Rep. Lipinski introduced H.R. 3140, the Accounting for Methane in Production through Loophole Elimination on Oil and Gas Royalties Act, which would eliminate exemptions that exist in current law, requiring oil and gas companies to pay royalties on all the gas removed from federal lands during production.  Estimates by Taxpayers for Common Sense put the loss to taxpayers at $380 million from 2006 through 2013 from onshore leases, corresponding to 665.7 billion cubic feet of gas, roughly equivalent to the average amount of gas consumed by all households in the state of New York in a year.

“Americans deserve to have their natural resources developed responsibly,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “The Government Accountability Office estimates that about 40 percent of this natural gas could be economically captured from federal onshore leases, and this would increase royalty payments by about $23 million per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to up to 16.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the same as removing 3.1 million cars from the road.” 

According to the DOI, their proposal would reduce methane emissions while improving pipeline safety, set commonsense standards for methane and ozone-forming emissions from new and modified sources, establish new guidelines to reduce volatile organic compounds, enhance leak detection and emissions reporting programs, drive technology to reduce natural gas losses, and modernize natural gas transmission and distribution infrastructure.

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