This week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized the new waste prevention rule, which cuts back on methane emissions requirements and returns to regulations that preceded the 2016 “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” federal rule, also known as the Venting and Flaring Rule.
A Little Background
The Obama-era Venting and Flaring Rule, published in the Federal Register on November 18, 2016, established requirements to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities from new and existing facilities on onshore Federal and Indian leases. However, many groups including Trump Administration, several states, and members of the oil and gas industry, believed that the 2016 rule was unnecessary and burdensome to the industry. The latest federal court ruling regarding the contested rule halted its implementation until revisions to the rule were published.
The preamble of the new rule states that the 2016 rule’s requirements would have placed a particular burden on marginal wells. Immediately following the September 18, 2018 release of the final rule, the states of California and New Mexico filed a complaint that the BLM did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in making this week’s changes.
The new rule eliminates the 2016 venting and flaring requirements pertaining to waste minimization plans, well drilling, well completion and related operations, pneumatic controllers, pneumatic diaphragm pumps, storage vessels, and leak detection and repair (LDAR).
With this final rule, BLM also modified gas-capture requirements, downhole well maintenance and liquids unloading requirements, and the measuring and reporting volumes of vented and flared gas.
The new rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Contact our air compliance experts with questions about the new rule:
Jay Christopher, Senior Air Specialist
Calvin Niss, Senior Vice President