WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Kevin Cramer participated in debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today in support of a joint resolution disapproving a regulation on methane waste he called a federal overreach of authority adding greater cost to operators with few environmental benefits. The resolution passed by a vote of 221 to 191.
H.J. Res. 36, which Cramer co-sponsored, disapproves Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. The regulation, which became effective on Jan. 17, requires operators to take various actions to reduce waste of gas lost during oil and gas production activities through venting or flaring of the gas, and through equipment leaks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with primary enforcement authority under the North Dakota Department of Health, is charged under the Clean Air Act to regulate air emissions and the North Dakota Industrial Commission, through the Department of Mineral Resources, is charged with preventing waste of oil and gas resources. The states of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana have taken legal action against this regulation.
BLM’s onshore oil and gas management program is a major contributor to the nation’s oil and gas production. The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of land and 700 million acres of subsurface estate, making up nearly a third of the nation’s mineral estate. Domestic production from 96,000 Federal onshore oil and gas wells accounts for 11 percent of the Nation’s natural gas supply and 5 percent of its oil. The BLM manages 58,000 surface acres of public land in North Dakota and oil and gas managemnt responsibilities for 1,421,000 million federal subsurface and 568,000 leased Indian Trust subsurface acres. Approximately 9 percent of minerals in the state are federal and Indian owned, however much of the development occurs under split estate lands with more than 30 percent of production units on private surface involving some portion of federal minerals.
During the floor debate Cramer said the regulation is an overreadh of authority already held by the EPA and the states. “The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources has waste prevention or conservation rules in place and is the first in the nation to set gas capture requirements and goals,“ he said. “Requiring operators to meet yet another set of rules in addition to state permits results in a substantial increases in both time and cost without additional benefit to the public or the environment. It also subjects operators to conflicting rules which may end up causing more emissions.“
He said in North Dakota alone it’s estimated this rule would cost $24 million in lost tax revenue to the State of North Dakota and $240 million per year in lost oil production. “But most importantly there would be $39 million in fewer royalty revenues collected. These royalties are paid to regular people, our farmers, ranchers and landowners.“
Cramer said because methane is essentially a commodity, there is a natural incentive to capure it. “The overall best case scenario impact this rule will have on methane emissions would be a 0.064 percent reduction. I know of two pipeline projects in North Dakota alone that, had they been allowed to move forward without the BLM’s heavy hand of regulation and at no expense to the government, would have reduced emissions by 6 percent instead of .06 percent. Let’s pass this resolution, overturn this aggregious unproductive BLM rule and return the authority back to the states where it belongs.“
A similar Senate resolution of disapproval has been introduced by Senator John Barrasso.
This is the fifth federal regulation the House has disapproved this week using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This law provides an expedited legislative process for Congress to disapprove of administrative rules through joint disapproval resolutions. Regulations issued by executive branch departments and agencies, independent agencies and commissions, are subject to CRA disapproval resolutions. Under this law, there is a 60-day period in which to pass a resolution of disapproval from when the rule is reported to Congress. When both the Senate and House pass a disapproval resolution that is signed by the President, the rule either does not go into effect or is considered as not having gone into effect. Watch video here.
Organizations Supporting H.J. Res 36
American Energy Alliance
American Exploration & Production Council
American Indian Infrastructure Association
American Iron and Steel Institute
American Petroleum Institute
Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
Arizona Mining Council
Arizona Pork Council
AZ Bass Nation
Bass Federation – AZ
Citizens Against Government Waste
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Concerned Citizens for America –Arizona Chapter
Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.
Excalibur Resources, LLC
Independent Petroleum Association of America
Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico
National Association of Manufacturers
National Stripper Well Association
New Mexico Business Coalition
New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association
New Mexico Federal Lands Council
New Mexico State Land Office
New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.
North Dakota Petroleum Council
Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Water Resource Institute
Western Energy Alliance
Whiting Petroleum Corporation
Yavapai Cattle Growers’ Association
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors