Public Comments on Methane from Mines to Bureau of Land Management
On June 30, Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the proposed establishment of a program to capture, use, or destroy methane that is released through underground mining operations on federal lands. Coal mining releases large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which most mine operators vent directly into the atmosphere. As a result, coal mining is the United States’ fourth largest source of methane emissions, accounting for 10 percent of emissions in 2012.
Technology exists to safely capture and exploit mine methane for profit. Even where capture is impractical, it is possible to abate mine methane’s climate impacts by converting the methane to carbon dioxide (a less potent greenhouse gas) through thermal oxidation or flaring. To encourage the efficient capture or abatement of mine methane, BLM should adopt the following policies:
- BLM should explicitly grant all coal lessees the right to capture and use or sell any methane that is released as a consequence of mining activities.
- BLM should adjust the royalty rates it charges coal lessees to reflect the social costs and unrealized commercial value of vented mine methane.
Policy Integrity will continue to monitor BLM’s rulemaking process as a part of our focus on the regulation of methane emissions.