The Wyoming Outdoor Council has worked for more than two years to reduce flaring and venting at oil wells in Wyoming. Now, as the state prepares to vote on long-awaited revisions to its rules governing these practices, we need your help.
As a reminder, flaring is the burning of natural gas at oil wells and venting is the release of raw methane and other gases into the atmosphere. Both activities waste a non-renewable resource and deny revenue to the state and taxpayers. Flaring and venting also emit harmful greenhouse gases.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently released a proposed draft of its revised flaring rule. While the proposal includes some improvements, it doesn’t go far enough.
Consider that in 2014, enough natural gas was flared or vented in our state to heat more than 45,000 Wyoming homes for a full year. In 2015, that number grew to more than 62,000 homes.* Consider, too, that most of the flaring and venting that took place in Wyoming last year was not even reviewed by regulators because it happened at wells that fall below an arbitrary production threshold. Anything less than this arbitrary amount (60,000 cubic feet of vented or flared natural gas per well, per day) is currently considered non-wasteful by the state and doesn’t require a permit.
Some flaring, of course, is necessary, especially when it’s done for workers’ safety during drilling. But that’s a determination the state should be making for all cases of flaring and venting. The fact is that much flaring—and the vast majority of venting—can and should be eliminated. With better planning at the permitting stage, for instance, operators could capture non-renewable natural gas instead of burning it, and avoid many cases of venting altogether.
This is a growing problem the state has the power to solve. Here’s how you can help.
If you can, attend the upcoming public meeting in Casper.
- Ask the state to prohibit venting entirely. It’s dirty and dangerous. Operators who must vent small amounts for technical reasons could still receive an exemption.
- Ask the state to ensure the safety of workers and people nearby with minimum air quality control requirements for flares.
- Ask the state to require a permit for any and all flared natural gas.
- Ask the state to require operators to provide economic justification in their flaring application for delays in gas infrastructure connection.
When: 5-7 p.m. Thursday, February 4, 2016
Where: Office of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor, 2211 King Blvd., Casper, Wyoming
*Information on flared and vented volumes obtained from the OGCC, Wyoming household energy use obtained from the Energy Information Administration, and number of households in Wyoming from the U.S. Census Bureau.