Environmentalists and others are optimistic that key climate-change regulations on methane leaks – rolled back during the Trump administration – soon will be reinstated.
The U-S Senate passed a Congressional Review Act resolution last week to reverse a 2017 executive order that eliminated an E-P-A rule requiring oil and gas producers to control methane emissions.
"It would do some very simple things that most of the big oil and gas companies already support, which are on-the-shelf technologies to capture leaks and also phase out the practice of flaring," Jason Keith said.
Keith, with the Moab-based group Public Lands Solutions, said controlling emissions at wells on public lands in Utah and other states could “cool down” the current methane “hot spot” in the Four Corners region. The measure now is pending in the House.
Many petroleum producers consider methane to be a waste product not worth the effort to capture. However, a recent study found that controlling methane emissions now could slow global warming by as much as 30 percent.
Keith's group analyzes public lands for recreation opportunities. He said emissions from more than 8-thousand inactive wells in states such as Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming pose a serious threat to people, wildlife, outdoor recreation and rural economies.
"You're going to get people to show up if your brand says 'Protected landscapes, healthy recreation experience,'" he said. "For us, something like the effort to roll back the rollback is one of the easiest things that we can do to try to start addressing climate change."
He added that capping wells and collecting methane also could provide a financial benefit.
Keith said that many Utahns backing the restoration of methane rules were disappointed that G-O-P Senator Mitt Romney did not vote for the resolution, but are hopeful that several members of the state's House delegation will back the measure.