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CMES Statement on Court Decision Overturning EPA Stay of Methane Rule

Isaac Brown

Statement from Patrick Von Bargen, Executive Director

“Today’s ruling is a win for local communities across America. Curbing methane pollution not only keeps our air clean, but these safeguards will help create more and more local jobs in the growing methane mitigation industry, and will help the oil and gas industry become more energy efficient,” said Patrick Von Bargen, Executive Director of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions. “This ruling comes just weeks after the Senate rejected legislation to repeal BLM regulations that reduce methane pollution. This administration needs to start supporting these common-sense safeguards and give communities and businesses the certainty they need to keep moving forward.”

CMES Statement on BLM Rule Delay

Isaac Brown

Today's announcement that BLM will delay the implementation of key parts of the methane waste rule is bad for business.   It injects enormous uncertainty into the marketplace, raising serious questions about the what and when of compliance, crippling the decision making processes of oil and gas producers.  It will sap the methane mitigation market of the economic growth that we should be seeking.  It runs completely counter to the decision of Congress to keep the rule in place.

-- Patrick Van Bargen, Executive Director.

Methane Mitigation Industry Reacts to Senate's Vote Blocking CRA of Methane Rule

Isaac Brown


Statement on Motion to Proceed to CRA Resolution on the BLM Methane Waste Rule

May 10, 2017

The methane mitigation industry is deeply appreciative of the vote in the Senate not to

proceed to the CRA resolution that would nullify the BLM Methane Waste Rule and prohibit

the Department of the Interior from improving the cost-effectiveness of the rule or issuing

any similar rule in the future.

It was truly courageous of Senators McCain, Graham, and Collins and all Democratic

Senators to stand up for good public policy in spite of a crushing lobbying campaign to get

them to vote “yes” on the motion to proceed and the resolution.

The result is that will be faster growth for the methane mitigation industry, more jobs, a

strengthening of our economic competitiveness in global markets, and much needed

incentives for the oil and gas industry to increase its energy efficiency and reduce its waste.

CMES Urges Senate to Vote No on Methane CRA

Isaac Brown

The Center for Methane Emissions Solutions

Washington, DC

May 9, 2017


Dear Senator:


Over the course of the past several months we and companies in the methane mitigation industry at the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions (CMES)  have argued:


·      Methane waste at oil and gas facilities on public lands is a problem; and Secretary Zinke has agreed with us in testimony before the Senate Energy Committee;


·      The BM Methane Waste Rule was modeled after the Colorado methane emissions rule, Regulation 7, and that rule has proved enormously successful; without legal opposition or attempts to repeal the rule in the state legislature or administratively, methane leaks in the large oil and gas state of Colorado have been reduced by 75% while natural gas production increased;


·      In one case study about Colorado Regulation 7, oil and gas producers and third-party service providers agreed that the benefits of the Colorado rule – captured otherwise wasted methane that could be sold in the marketplace, better worker safety, and increased efficiency of operations -- outweighed its costs;


·      No one has presented any data that the BLM Methane Waste Rule is a “job killer”; in fact, our companies – who pay wages that are twice as high as the national average -- have seen increases in employment because of the Colorado rule, with many companies adding high-wage maintenance jobs to continue their new efficiency programs;


·      Colorado is the critical start of building a robust U.S. domestic market for the more than 570 companies (in 46 states) in the methane mitigation industry, and the BLM Methane Waste Rule is critical to the health and growth of the industry;


·      With natural gas production expected to increase more than 50% in the U.S. and 60% around in the world in the next 25 years, the question is whether American companies will export their products to meet the methane mitigation needs of these companies, or once again, will it be Japan, Korea, Germany, or even China that create thousands of methane mitigation industry jobs in their countries; without a strong U.S. market for these technologies and services, the answer will preclude American competitiveness in this global industry.


Apparently, we have won the argument on substance!  Just yesterday, one Republican Senator announced that how he would vote on the CRA resolution to repeal the BLM Methane Waste, and he cited as his reason that Secretary Zinke would take strong action in regulations to reduce methane waste.  The problem is that that Senator says he is going to vote “yes” on the resolution, ignoring the plain language of the Congressional Review Act; it prohibits the adoption of any future rule “substantially similar” to the rule being nullified.  If the Senate passes the CRA resolution, Secretary Zinke will actually not be able to deliver any such regulatory action.


The BLM Methane Waste Rule is comprehensive; it deals with everything from data collection on oil and gas facilities, to methane leaks, to methane leak repair, to methane flaring, to methane venting, to royalties on methane, and other topics.  Any regulation that attempts to address these issues will inevitably be “substantially similar.”  And even if one could parse the language here, it will not be politically feasible for Secretary Zinke to venture into this space without violating the very intent of Congress in passing the CRA resolution. 


In fact, the only way to get to the result wished by the Republican Senator is to let the rule stand and do as he has done – encourage Secretary Zinke to modify the current BLM Waste Rule to make it more cost-effective.  A “no” vote on the resolution accomplishes exactly that.  Good public policy – to reduce waste and to create new jobs in the United States -- requires a “no” vote. 



Patrick Von Bargen

Center for Methane Emissions Solutions


Denver Business Journal: Think Twice Before Repealing Federal Methane Gas Rule

Isaac Brown

Denver Business Journal (Colorado)

February 17, 2017 Friday

Viewpoint: Think twice before repealing federal methane gas rule

BYLINE: Ryan Alexander and Patrick Von Bargen

LENGTH: 780 words

In its rush to repeal regulations from the Obama administration, Congress may soon overturn a rule to prevent leaks and collect royalties on wasted methane gas from federal lands.

Some lawmakers want to use a little-known procedure known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal a waste prevention rule finalized by the Bureau of Land Management last year.

Using the CRA, which has only been invoked once before, would prohibit similar rules to limit waste and collect royalties in the future. Overturning this rule would lead to more government waste and the loss of good-paying jobs in the growing industry devoted to capturing and using gas now being lost.

It will, in our view, undermine efforts to address the problem of wasted gas, deny oil and gas producers access to more effective and affordable solutions to the problem, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in lost revenue.

The rule that both of our organizations – Taxpayers for Common Sense and Center for Methane Emissions Solutions - are concerned about was issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to address the waste of natural gas from oil and gas wells on federal lands.

It replaces a six-page notice to federal leaseholders issued in 1979. Since then, the process of drilling for oil and gas has changed dramatically and the old rules have not kept up. The BLM has been dinged repeatedly - including by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) - for allowing so much natural gas to be wasted.

The problem of lost gas from federal lands is getting worse, not better. The total amount of natural gas flared from BLM-administered leases doubled from 2009 to 2013. Lost gas in 2014 alone had a sales value of $444 million and a royalty value of $56 million. Between 2009 and 2015, federal and Indian onshore wells vented or flared enough gas to serve more than six million households for a year.

Much of this gas can be captured. In 2010, the GAO found that around 40 percent of natural gas being vented and flared from onshore federal leases could have been economically captured with the use of control technologies already available. Today there are 72 companies that produce and service methane mitigation technologies headquartered in the United States, with 572 different facilities in 46 states.

We also know that the BLM methane waste rule can work for the oil and gas industry. The rule is based in large part on the stricter comprehensive methane rule adopted by Colorado three years ago - Regulation 7. That rule has been remarkably successful in reducing methane waste.

It has been implemented without lawsuits, calls for repeal or objection from gas producers. Moreover, one study showed that oil and gas industry players believe the rule's benefits - reduced waste, new revenue from the sale of captured methane, better worker safety, and increased operations efficiency - outweighed its costs. And it has helped create new high-paying, blue-collar maintenance jobs in the oil and gas industry.

Using the blunt, one-size-fits-all CRA would foreclose any amendments to the BLM rule that could make it even more effective for the oil and gas industry, and would not permit similar rules to limit waste and collect royalties without an additional act of Congress - essentially locking taxpayers into the 30-year-old rules.

This would significantly hamper efforts to capture wasted methane for sale in the market, to set new limits on venting and flaring, and to clarify both when lost gas is subject to royalties and when extracted oil and gas may be used royalty-free.

Despite Secretary-Designate of the Interior Ryan Zinke's own testimony that indeed, "Methane waste is a problem," the ability of this or any future administration to craft any solution to the well-documented problem of lost gas from BLM-administered leases will be severely limited if the methane waste rule is repealed through the CRA.

It will also kill an emerging domestic market for the American methane mitigation industry that is creating new jobs today, has great export potential to meet fast-growing global demand, and is developing even more effective, lower-cost innovations for oil and gas producers to monetize previously wasted methane.

It should certainly be within the power of the Trump Administration and Secretary Zinke to revise BLM's methane rule as they see fit, and tying their hands for years to come is not the way forward. In this case, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner should oppose efforts to use the Congressional Review Act.


CMES Hosts Briefing to Highlight State of Methane Mitigation Industry

Isaac Brown

Today, the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions held a telepresser highlighting the opportunities that lay ahead in growing the methane mitigation and smart energy development, and how that industry is up to meet the challenge of the BLM natural gas waste rule.

You can listen to the audio from the briefing here:

Reducing methane waste is big win for all

Isaac Brown

Operating a family-owned business in Indiana, I’ve seen firsthand solutions that benefit business, the environment and local jobs in the oil and gas industry do exist.

Methane detection and mitigation is one area in which we’ve seen great cooperation between businesses and environmental groups, and I love to tell the stories of our successes.

My parents, John and Nancy, started SENSIT Technologies in the 1980s. I was considered their second employee. Thirty-five years later, we’re still a family-owned and operated company based in Valparaiso.

While we started small, we now employ nearly 90 people. There isn’t a major domestic gas transmission or distribution company that we don’t do business with. Over the years, we have expanded our sales to users in more than 40 countries around the globe.

Throughout our history, SENSIT has been known for supplying natural gas companies with high-quality and highly accurate leak detection instruments that allow their workers to protect themselves and the public from the potential hazards associated with reported natural or propane gas odors. Most of our instruments are hand held and rapidly detect the gas that is present.

More recently though, oil and gas operators have been asking us for permanent and continuous leak-detection technology to help reduce methane waste, improve efficiency and lower fugitive emissions in specific areas of their systems.


We had to move rapidly to find the right partners in order to meet customer demand with the right technology. We worked hand-in-hand with select oil and gas operators, SenSevere (a Pittsburgh based developer of novel gas detection technologies) and the Environmental Defense Fund to develop specialized technology that could detect and monitor methane leaks.

The developed technology incorporates TDLAS (Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy), which emits a specific wavelength of light that methane will absorb. This allows our customers to continuously monitor the specified area and obtain reliable real-time data. The system also includes alarms and other communication capabilities that can provide alerts in the event of changes exceeding a specified threshold.

Oil and gas operators were driven to request this technology, realizing that keeping more of their product in the pipe meant more profit and more cost savings as well as improved operational efficiency, greater safety for workers and the environment, less waste, cleaner air for the residents and greater compliance.

The product launches next month, and within 18 months, we should begin to gather some financial data that shows the cost savings from eliminating methane waste.

Successful deployment of this technology will be transformational for SENSIT Technologies and will allow us to grow and expand to bring more good jobs to the state of Indiana and continue to serve customer need.

There’s a lot we can learn from this sort of innovative partnership, and methane detection and mitigation is a great example of a win-win scenario for business, workers and the environment.

J. Scott Kleppe is president & CEO of Valparaiso-based Sensit Technologies. The opinions are the writer's.

Center for Methane Emissions Solutions Urges Continuation of Methane Regulations

Isaac Brown

News Release                                              

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           

For Information Contact: Isaac Brown, 202-540-9162/


Executive Director, Center for Methane Emissions Solutions


Cutting methane waste makes economic sense both because it allows oil and gas producers to reap new revenue from captured methane that would otherwise be wasted and because it creates new jobs in the growing American methane mitigation industry.   And the air quality benefits that come from reducing emissions from a gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide are enormous too. 


Publication of BLM’s final rule regarding methane emissions on oil and gas facilities on federal public lands was the culmination of a thorough process during which BLM received and considered thousands of public comments, including those submitted by the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions.  Mirroring many of the provisions of the highly successful Colorado Regulation 7 that governs methane emissions, the final BLM rule incorporated changes from the original draft that make the rule practical and affordable. 


Like any business sector, the oil and gas industry needs certainty about the standards that it is expected to meet.  It would be foolhardy to upend this BLM final rule and start the process all over again, just delaying the day when all oil and gas producers are put on an even playing field with clear, common rules to reduce methane waste on public lands. 



About CMES


The Center for Methane Emissions Solutions was founded to provide a voice for businesses that that offer innovative solutions to reduce methane emissions.  The Center represents the interests of American businesses that develop and manufacture cutting edge technologies, install commercial technologies, and aid inspectors on the job to significantly cut methane waste on a cost-effective basis across the oil and gas supply chain. For more information, visit the website at

New NASA Study Demonstrates How Technology Can Detect Methane Waste

Isaac Brown

Last week, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) released a study of methane emissions in the “four corners” region where the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah meet.  Using a new technology – airborne spectrometers – the research team that included Cal Tech, the University of Michigan, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and was led by NASA identified just 25 emission points on oil and gas facilities in the region that accounted for more than a quarter of all methane emissions in the region. 

Here at the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions, we view this study as just the most recent example of how the deployment of new technology can help the oil and gas industry identify the “super-emitting” leaks that waste enormous amounts of natural gas.  If those leaks could be found and repaired sooner, oil and gas producers could sell that gas into the market place and reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue.  Of course, by finding and repairing these leaks, producers also get the added benefit of helping to reduce emissions of one of the most potent greenhouse gases. 

For a summary of the study and how the technology worked, see:

And to read one example of the immediate impact that new technology can have on imagining new ways of doing business, see: