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BLM Issues Venting, Flaring, and Leaking Rule – And a Jurisdictional Challenge May Be Brewing

January 21, 2016

Today, the Department of Interior (DOI)/Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its much-anticipated proposed rule on venting, flaring, and leaking from oil and gas operations on onshore federal and Indian leases, along with a four-page fact sheet. DOI's press release, which discusses the proposal largely in terms of air quality, notes that the rule will "help curb waste of our nation's natural gas supplies, reduce harmful methane emissions and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, Tribes, and States." DOI is proposing to update NTL-4A by requiring operators to limit venting and flaring through new technologies, processes, and equipment including storage tanks, adopt leak detection and repair programs, and limit gas losses during liquids unloading. The proposed rule would also prohibit venting, except during emergencies and other limited exceptions–effectively implementing a "no venting" standard. Finally, the rule proposes to clarify when operators owe royalties on flared gas and allow BLM to set royalty rates at or above 12.5 percent of the value of production.

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