Businesses nationwide are speaking up in favor of climate regulation. The US Chamber of Commerce often gives the impression that businesses oppose environmental regulation. But across the country, thousands upon thousands of businesses are speaking out and saying that well-crafted regulations of carbon emissions are good for businesses.
There is increasing evidence that fracking for natural gas is harming local communities and substantially increasing climate change. Today, Green America’s Green Business Network and the American Sustainable Business Council, representing over 200,000 businesses, filed joint comments with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in support of proposed regulations of methane emissions from natural gas operations on public and tribal lands. The regulations are an important first step in addressing rapidly increasing methane emissions from natural gas operations.
U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
Mail Stop 2134 LM
1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240
April 21, 2016
Dear Director Kornze,
On behalf of the 3,000 business members of Green America’s Green Business Network and the over 200,000 businesses represented by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), we submit our support for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recent proposed standards to reduce methane emissions and wasted gas from venting, flaring, and leaks on federal and tribal lands. The proposed regulations make strong business sense, and are an important step in the right direction in mitigating the adverse effects methane leaks have on the environment, small businesses, and Americans.
Current standards addressing venting, flaring, and leaks do not take into account recent developments in methane mitigation technology and the increasing evidence of methane’s contributions to climate change. Methane is a pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide, and accounts for nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In March, Harvard researchers published the study entitled A large increase in U.S. methane emissions over the past decade inferred from satellite data and surface observations in Geophysical Research Letters. The study relied on satellite imaging and found that methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent over the central US between 2002 and 2014. Methane emission increases over the past decade or more are significantly undermining the reductions the US has achieved in CO2 emissions over the same time period.
If strong federal rules are not adopted, methane waste from oil and gas sites will continue to exacerbate the effect climate change has on the economy, including the small businesses sector, which is a principle job creator in the US. Although climate change has more immediate consequences for certain regions – coastal communities and businesses, for instance, are already dealing with rising sea levels – small businesses in general are vulnerable to its impacts, and have less resources to adapt to them. Impacts include disrupting distribution, interrupting farming and production, and rising healthcare costs for employees. Air pollution from methane leaks on public and tribal lands near tourist destinations can also impact small businesses that depend on tourism.
Climate change is likely to have far-reaching and devastating economic impacts. The Risky Business Project, founded to highlight the risks of climate change to the economy, recently published The Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus. The book highlights the greatest economic risks of climate change including: increased mortality; reduction in the hours that people are able to work (particularly in the agriculture, construction, utilities, and manufacturing sectors); and impacts on energy demand, coastal communities, agriculture, and crime. The authors found that the total economic impacts could be three percent of US GDP or higher. Small businesses will be particularly susceptible to such impacts.
That is why it is vitally important that the BLM take steps to lower methane emissions contributing to climate change. These steps will help protect American small businesses and their communities nationwide.
Adopting the proposed rules will also spur innovation and create jobs in the American clean energy industry, especially within the methane mitigation sector. The majority of existing methane mitigation companies are headquartered in the United States and qualify as small businesses; this rule would allow the American methane mitigation sector to grow, and positions the US to become a global leader in reducing methane emissions.
We greatly appreciate the BLM’s leadership with the proposed rules to reduce methane waste from public and tribal natural gas sites. Although the proposed rules are a positive first step, there is also room to strengthen BLM’s proposal, including:
- improving leak detection and repair requirements (including quarterly inspections for leak detection and conservative parameters around the proposed alternative compliance programs following the successful examples of Wyoming and Colorado in capturing waste);
- enacting better standards for production equipment and strengthening flaring regulation (including strengthening control measure around pneumatic controllers and monitoring for leaks); and
- ensuring enforcement, transparency, and accountability (including increased ability for public comment for ongoing issues).
Finally, it is imperative that BLM finalizes the rules this year as the need for meaningful methane regulation reform is clear: methane leaks and waste fuel climate change and negatively impact human health and businesses nationwide. Delay will only increase these harms.
The proposed regulations and the steps highlighted above for strengthening them will play a strong role in reducing waste, protecting public health, and addressing the harmful consequences of climate change. They will help to protect the small business community from climate impacts and provide opportunities for small businesses growth.
Todd Larsen Richard Eidlin
Executive Co-Director Vice president of Policy and
Green America Campaigns of ASBC