Attorney General Bonta Leads Multistate Comment Letter Supporting the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Proposed Waste Prevention Rule

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez led a multistate coalition in submitting comments in support of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new proposed Waste Prevention Rule, which aims to reduce the waste of natural gas through improved regulatory requirements regarding methane venting, flaring, and leaks. The rule would require oil and natural gas producers to take cost-effective measures to cut the wasteful leakage of natural gas, which is primarily comprised of methane, a super pollutant up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat over a 20-year timeframe, on federal and tribal lands managed by BLM.
“California is a leader when it comes to protecting our communities from pollution, and we support BLM’s proposed Waste Prevention Rule, which would set important national standards for reducing the waste of natural gas,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The proposed rule not only helps to protect our environment, it also benefits taxpayers by ensuring that they receive fair royalties for the use of public lands and resources. We urge BLM to finalize the proposed rule, and put in place commonsense national standards that reduce waste and methane emissions into our environment.”
The coalition states have a strong interest in seeing the proposed Waste Prevention Rule implemented. BLM administers 245 million acres in the United States, with 15.2 million acres, or nearly 15% of public lands, in just California. Nationwide, in 2021 alone, companies produced more than 1 billion barrels of oil from federal sources and more than 79 million from sources on tribal lands as well as approximately 4.08 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from federal sources and 339 billion cubic feet from sources on tribal lands. The coalition has a significant interest in preventing the waste of valuable public resources. The proposed rule would ensure that the public’s natural resources are being used efficiently and effectively, resulting in more revenue for the states and their taxpayers in the form of royalties.
Additionally, the coalition has a strong interest in preventing and mitigating harm caused by climate change, including increased heat-related deaths, damaged coastal areas, disrupted ecosystems, more severe weather events, increased wildfires, and longer and more frequent droughts. BLM estimates that the Proposed Rule will prevent methane emissions resulting in a monetized benefit to society of $427 million per year in avoided climate impacts. This is a significant amount of avoided climate impacts, and will contribute to the overall prevention and mitigation of climate-related harm in coalition states and elsewhere. Reducing methane emissions also helps protect the health and well-being of the states’ residents, particularly those that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

In the comment letter, the coalition argues that the proposed Waste Prevention Rule: 

  • Provides a much-needed update to replace the outdated regulations that are currently in place. BLM is currently relying on regulations which are more than four decades old, despite the fact that methane venting and flaring from federal leases has increased dramatically since the 1990s. The new Proposed Rule provides a common-sense update to BLM’s existing framework, including provisions that reflect technological advancements to help prevent waste.
  • Enacts reasonable requirements to prevent waste and obtain a fair return to taxpayers through royalties. The Proposed Rule’s requirements are calculated to result in the conservation of an additional 15 billion cubic feet of gas per year, resulting in approximately $39 million per year in additional royalties and a significant reduction of methane pollution.
  • Provides reasonable requirements for operators to better prevent and reduce waste, without imposing undue compliance costs on operators. A Regulatory Impact Analysis found that compliance costs associated with this Proposed Rule are estimated to represent only a small fraction of the annual net incomes of the companies likely to be impacted. Given the low compliance burden to operators, the cost is outweighed by the benefits to society of the Proposed Rule.
  • Offers important environmental benefits to communities across the nation. The Proposed Rule will result in an additional 15.3 billion cubic feet of captured gas per year, leading to a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate impacts including disrupted ecosystems, more severe weather events, and more.
  • Is within BLM’s authority. The Proposed Rule is authorized under BLM’s broad authority to regulate oil and gas exploration and production activities on federal lands under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act (FOGRMA). 

The 2022 Proposed Rule is BLM’s third attempt to update regulations regarding waste prevention from federal oil and gas activities. California, in partnership with New Mexico and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), has been leading efforts to support the adoption of a strong Waste Prevention Rule since 2016.
In filing comments, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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