Interior’s Proposed Rule on Flaring Would Restrict Oil and Gas Development on Tribal Lands
The US Department of the Interior on 22 January proposed a rule developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that would limit the flaring, leaking, and venting of natural gas on public and tribal lands.
The Proposed Rule
The proposed rule would require oil and gas producers to inspect their equipment for leaks, replace equipment that unnecessarily releases large quantities of gas into the air, and adopt processes and technology that limit the rate of flaring. Metering and reporting would also be required when flared volumes reach 50 Mcf)/d. According to the BLM, if implemented, this rule would cost the oil and gas industry from USD 125 million to USD 161 million per year.
Impacts On Tribal Lands And Economic Development
Given the discoveries of Bakken and Marcellus shale gas resources on tribal lands, the rule would impose additional and unnecessary cost barriers to production, restricting oil and gas development on tribal lands. As some tribal governments and Native American-owned developers are new market entrants to this industry, the proposed rule may directly impact their ability to develop tribal natural resources.
The proposed rule states, “BLM requirements would not supersede equally effective or more stringent state and tribal requirements.” However, BLM’s proposed rule appears inconsistent with the federal government’s support of economic independence for tribal governments in other respects (e.g., leasing regulations under the HEARTH Act).