Secretary Jewell Visits New Mexico's Permian Basin to Discuss Efforts to Reduce Methane on Public Lands

Administration Goal to Reduce Methane Emissions by up to 45% by 2025

Last edited 09/29/2021

CARLSBAD, N.M. – On the heels of the Obama Administration's recently announced goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze today visited oil and gas fields in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and met with industry officials to discuss approaches to reducing wasteful venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas (methane) from wells on public lands.

Secretary Jewell and Director Kornze's visit to the BLM's Carlsbad Field Office, which oversees about 25 percent of all onshore Federal oil production, underscores the President's goal to cut methane emissions as part of his Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, harness clean domestic energy resources and cut carbon pollution. Acting BLM-New Mexico State Director Aden Seidlitz, other BLM officials and representatives from several oil and gas development companies also joined Jewell and Kornze.

“The BLM is leading by example on our public lands, updating decades-old standards to reduce wasteful venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas,” said Secretary Jewell. “Getting more of our nation's natural gas into pipelines and delivered to market means more American energy and the creation of new American jobs.”

As part of the President's strategy, Interior is working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Labor and Transportation in developing an interagency, multi-sector strategy for improving emissions data, identifying technologies and best practices for reducing emissions and examining cost-effective opportunities to reduce methane emissions.

The BLM's current regulations regarding venting and flaring are more than three decades old and the new draft standards, scheduled to be put out for public comment this spring, would update these requirements. The BLM is working with multiple stakeholders and reviewing a wide range of options to meaningfully reduce natural gas waste and methane pollution.

“The Bureau of Land Management is committed to ensuring that the natural gas captured from our nation's public lands creates revenue for taxpayers and spurs job growth in rural America,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “Achieving the President's goal would mean harnessing enough gas, that would otherwise be wasted or lost, to heat more than 2 million homes for a year.”

U.S. oil production is at the highest level in nearly 30 years and the Nation is now the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing an abundant source of clean-burning fuel to power and heat American homes and businesses. At the same time, methane accounts for 10 percent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and 25 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. U.S. methane emissions are projected to rise more than 25 percent by 2025 without additional steps to lower them. About a third of these emissions come from oil and gas operations.

During their visit, Jewell, Kornze and others also received briefings regarding advances in processing applications for permits to drill, hydraulic fracturing and the operation of the Carlsbad Field Office as an Energy Pilot Office. More than 37 million barrels of oil were produced from federal leases in the Carlsbad Field Office last year, and about $589 million in royalties from federal wells went to the State of New Mexico. An Energy Bill Pilot Office with 82 employees, the Carlsbad group has been completing more than 1,400 NEPA actions each year for the past two years in support of oil and gas and associated development.

Secretary Jewell last August visited North Dakota's Bakken Region to inspect new technologies being employed by some companies in the region to capture and reduce natural gas and methane emissions. Jewell in January also met with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and representatives from the oil and gas industry, non-government organizations, and Colorado officials in a roundtable discussion regarding efforts to reduce methane emissions during the production, storage and transportation of oil and gas.

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