Bennet, Hickenlooper Welcome Final Rule to Cut Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations on Public and Lands

BLM’s Announcement Follows Bennet and Hickenlooper’s Calls for BLM to Follow Colorado’s Lead, Prevent Wasteful Venting, Flaring on Public and Tribal Lands

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper applauded the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule to reduce harmful methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public and Tribal lands. The rule takes important steps to curb routine venting and flaring, following Colorado’s lead. 

“Colorado has led the nation in limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and has long recognized the harm caused by routine venting and flaring. These practices waste valuable natural resources, risk the health of surrounding communities, and pollute the environment,” said Bennet. “I’m glad BLM followed our state’s example and is taking steps to cut down on these wasteful practices on our public and Tribal lands.”

“Colorado has led the way in reducing methane emissions. Taking basic steps to cut harmful emissions will go a long way to slowing climate change and keep pollutants out of our atmosphere. Now, the rest of the country will follow Colorado’s lead so we can meet our climate goals,” said Hickenlooper.

This rule follows Bennet and Hickenlooper’s letter last year urging BLM to follow Colorado’s lead by eliminating routine venting and flaring on public and Tribal lands. This final rule will conserve billions of cubic feet of gas and keep harmful methane emissions from entering our atmosphere, while generating more than $50 million in additional natural gas royalty payments each year. 

Routine flaring is the practice of regularly burning off excess gas during oil and gas production and processing as a waste product; venting allows excess gas to escape directly into the atmosphere without burning it. These practices occur when gas is not economically attractive enough to be sold, facilities lack the infrastructure to capture this excess gas, or equipment is faulty. Venting and flaring has increased significantly over the last 30 years, and according to a report from Synapse Energy Economics, oil and gas companies operating on public and Tribal lands wasted over $500 million worth of gas in 2019. Pollution from venting and flaring includes powerful methane emissions, a significant accelerant of climate change, as well as dangerous volatile organic compounds.

Colorado was the first state to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.  Bennet and Hickenlooper have consistently worked to limit these emissions, following Colorado’s lead. In December 2023, Bennet applauded a final rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require oil and gas producers to detect and fix leaks of methane. In February 2023, Bennet and Hickenlooper joined Senate colleagues to urge the EPA to use data from innovative monitoring technologies like satellite imaging and tighten restrictions on routine flaring to strengthen methane emission standards. In June 2023, Bennet joined colleagues in pushing the EPA to strengthen its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production and to swiftly implement key provisions of the Methane Emission Reduction Program. In 2021, Bennet joined his colleagues in a critical bipartisan vote to restore the EPA’s ability to regulate methane from oil and gas, and later that year, Bennet and Hickenlooper led members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation in a letter urging the EPA to swiftly adopt strong protective methane standards for the oil and gas sector. 

In addition, Bennet helped secure funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up abandoned or orphaned oil and gas wells, consistent with his Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act. His bill would also update and strengthen bonding requirements and expand opportunities for local input in lease sales on public lands, ensuring that irresponsible operators — not taxpayers — pay for the cost of cleanup.