In response to the Biden administration releasing its final U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) methane waste rule, the Western Environmental Law Center, Environmental Defense Fund, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, and Western Organization of Resource Councils released the following statements today.

The final rules released today take steps to reduce waste from routine venting and flaring of gas at well sites.

According to the Biden administration, oil and gas operators vented or flared approximately 150 billion cubic feet of methane in 2019 — or about $400 million of natural gas on federal and Tribal lands. That is enough natural gas to meet the needs of 2.1 million households, which is nearly as many households as in the states of New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming combined. If that gas were captured, it could generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue for states and tribes to fund education, infrastructure, and health services.

“Eliminating waste from routine venting and flaring of associated gas conserves domestic energy resources, ensures taxpayers benefit from the development of publicly-owned minerals, lessens oil and gas production’s negative impact on the climate, and protects the health of frontline communities,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. “The health risks increase the closer people live, work, and go to school near oil and gas facilities – it’s crucial federal agencies move forward on strong implementation and enforcement of these new rules.”

“Strong Interior Department methane waste rules are integral for the United States to protect taxpayers from wasted energy resources,” said Jon Goldstein, Senior Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, EDF. “Taking action to limit methane waste on public lands offers a win-win-win for taxpayers, producers and communities harmed by this waste and associated pollution.”

The waste of natural gas through venting and flaring on federal and Tribal lands has been a persistent problem for decades.

“Methane from oil and gas development on public lands harms communities, invaluable natural resources, and the climate,” said Ben Tettlebaum, Director and Senior Staff Attorney at The Wilderness Society. “This rule takes steps to reduce methane waste from venting and flaring, which not only makes good economic sense, but also has conservation and climate benefits.”

“When oil and gas operators leak, vent or flare methane, taxpayers and communities suffer,” said Robin Cooley, Deputy Managing Attorney, Rocky Mountain Office, Earthjustice. “BLM has a critical role to play in reducing oil and gas waste.  Along with EPA’s new rules to control methane pollution, it is vital for these federal agencies to swiftly implement and enforce rules to protect all Americans.”

Venting and flaring emit not only methane but also harmful pollutants including ozone- or smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous pollutants that have serious public health impacts on communities living in basins with oil and gas production or in proximity to federally-owned or Tribal minerals.

The impact of wasted methane extends beyond economic concerns. Tribal communities in North Dakota are particularly affected by methane waste, suffering not just from economic harm but disproportionate health impacts from venting and flaring. Representative Lisa Finley-DeVille (ND4a) co-founder and VP of Fort Berthold POWER, Western Organization of Resource Councils member and Dakota Resource Council board member said. “The BLM waste rule addresses the royalties lost from unfettered oil and gas production, but for my community on Fort Berthold Reservation, the fact that routine venting and flaring from existing and new wells is not eliminated means the continued waste of tribal resources. Not only do we lose out on revenue through royalties and taxes but we also have to pay the higher costs of healthcare due to exposure to the wasted gas. ”

BLM has authority and a legal responsibility to eliminate the waste of public resources. Reducing methane waste protects taxpayer resources,supports local economies and has important co-benefits such as reducing climate pollution and protecting public health.

In December 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized tougher clean air standards that, for the first time, establish protective limits on methane pollution from both new and existing oil and gas sources, including efforts to limit flaring from newly drilled wells.


Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-751-0351,

Kelsey Robinson, Environmental Defense Fund, 512-591-3404,

Kerry Leslie, The Wilderness Society, 415-398-1484,

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) uses the power of the law to foster thriving, resilient western U.S. lands, waters, wildlife, and communities in the face of a changing climate. We envision a western U.S. abundant with protected and interconnected ecosystems, powered by renewable energy, and cared for by communities brought together in an ecology of kinship.

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and activists and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund.

The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is a network of nine grassroots organizations in seven Western states with 19,935 members, many of them ranchers and farmers committed to common-sense reform in agriculture, oil and gas development, coal mine reclamation, and rural economic development. Headquartered in Billings, Mont., WORC also has an office in Washington, D.C.

Dakota Resource Council’s mission is to promote sustainable use of North Dakota’s natural resources and family-owned and operated agriculture by building member-led local groups that empower people to influence the decision-making processes that affect their lives and communities.

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. It wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Earthjustice is here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

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