Groups Sue to Keep Methane Waste Rule

December 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two new lawsuits have been filed in federal court to stop the Trump administration from deep-sixing rules meant to reduce pollution, fight climate change and preserve public resources.

A dozen conservation groups and the state attorneys general of California and New Mexico filed suit Dec. 19 to reinstate the methane waste rule, which would force oil and gas companies to install equipment to capture excess methane gas at their wells instead of venting it or burning it off.

The Bureau of Land Management suspended the rule until January 2019, arguing that it is too big a burden on industry.

The Department of the Interior reports that in 2014, oil and gas companies wasted enough gas to supply 1.5 million households for a year.

The Department of the Interior reports that in 2014, oil and gas companies wasted enough gas to supply 1.5 million households for a year.

Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, says Colorado already has similar requirements and the companies have complied without a problem.

“These measures in some ways pay for themselves because the industry actually, by putting in sensible measures, they capture more of the methane – and the methane is fuel that they can then sell,” he states. “It will certainly increase royalties for taxpayers.”

This rule has survived several attempts to thwart it. First Congress rejected an attempt to roll it back using the Congressional Review Act.

Then the BLM tried to suspend it administratively, but was stopped in court.

Now clean air advocates are hoping the judge will grant an injunction forcing the companies to comply starting this January.

Murphy says methane gas is a super pollutant that has 87 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide over the short term, which harms human health and the environment.

“And it’s fueling climate change, which is causing sea level rise,” he stresses. “It’s causing habitat degradation. It’s causing trout streams to warm.

“Climate change right now is one of the biggest threats to wildlife.”

The Department of the Interior reports that in 2014, oil and gas companies wasted enough gas to supply 1.5 million households for a year.

Report: Climate Change has Doubled The Area Burned By Forest Fires in the West

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Anyone who lives in the western United States is familiar with the massive fires that rage every summer, and a report out Monday says climate change has doubled the amount of acreage burned since 1984.

Researchers from the University of Idaho and Columbia University found that further warming will accelerate this trend in the future. Study co-author John Abatzoglou, a professor of geography at the University of Idaho, said climate change has increased what scientists call “fuel aridity.”

“Since climate change has basically shifted our fuels to be drier than they would have been in the absence of climate change,” Abatzoglou said, “we use that relationship to get an estimate of the additional area that has burned due to man-made climate change.”

The study found that natural variability in weather patterns has combined with climate change to compound the problem. Statistics show that more than 8,700 wildland fires burned almost 900,000 acres in California in 2015.

Abatzoglou said the acreage that has burned in the Western U.S. since 1984 due to climate change equals an area more than three times the size of Los Angeles County.

“We estimate that right around 16,000 additional square miles has burned as a result of man-made climate change,” Abatzoglou said, “which is just under about half of the total amount over the last 32 years.”

The study’s authors support efforts to clear out dead wood to reduce the fuel load, but acknowledge that the matter is complex because fallen trees can provide important habitats for wildlife. In addition, successful firefighting techniques have “saved” some forests and allowed dead wood to pile up, thus making them more vulnerable to a mega-blaze.

 

Copyright © 2018 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·