Press Release

New report highlights the need for federal methane waste regulations

methane flaring

Methane flares.

Ken Doerr, Flickr

Inconsistent state regulations don’t stand up to 2016 BLM rule

A new report by The Wilderness Society and Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) shines a light on the patchwork system of natural gas waste regulations across western states and how the federal government’s new dependence on state controls to monitor such waste could lead to even more pollution and millions of dollars lost for American taxpayers.

According to The State of Methane, $807 million worth of natural gas was wasted across federal lands of eight western states over the last decade: Alaska, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of these states’ regulations for managing natural gas waste, comparing each state’s guidelines to nine major provisions of the 2016 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane Waste Rule. The 2016 rule, which established a complete suite of requirements that would substantially reduce natural gas waste and methane emissions from public lands, was repealed by the Trump administration and replaced by a rule that relies almost entirely on whatever state regulations exist.

However, the report’s analysis shows that the states have wildly different approaches when it comes to managing natural gas waste. Colorado and California have existing requirements that meet or even exceed portions of the 2016 BLM rule, while other states, such as New Mexico and Montana, have some of the weakest state regulations in the west, leaving significant sources of methane waste completely unregulated.

“Relying on inconsistent and inadequate state regulations will lead to increased methane emissions and natural gas waste from public lands. States and the federal government must step up and address these issues to protect taxpayers, public health and the environment,” said Chase Huntley, energy and climate change program director at The Wilderness Society.

“The patchwork of standards across states will only increase methane waste and taxpayer losses. At a time when the nation faces historic deficits, taxpayers need a rule that actually reduces methane waste and ensures we are compensated for the resources we own,” said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The State of Methane shows how this hodgepodge approach to federal energy management will lead to varying requirements across states and ultimately result in increased pollution, degraded air quality, and millions of dollars in lost royalty revenues.

Media resources for State of Methane Report


  • Alex Thompson, Communications Manager, The Wilderness Society, 202-429-3940,

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.