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The decision could affect more than half of the United States’ 517 natural gas processing plants.
The Obama administration has telegraphed its plans to “reduce wasteful venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas from onshore wells” on federal and Indian leases nationwide.
While natural gas plants are considered more environmentally friendly than their coal counterparts, the report notes natural gas production is linked to the emission of methane — the main component of natural gas — which is a “potent climate change pollutant.”
After failing to find commercially viable quantities of oil and gas at its Chukchi Sea well, Shell said it will halt exploring U.S. Arctic waters and could take a $4.1 billion write down.
Under existing federal law, the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to review and possibly revise regulations governing the handling of oil and gas waste every three years. But the agency’s last review was 27 years ago.
A 2008 government sale of Arctic drilling leases to Shell and other companies is set to face fresh scrutiny in the federal courts, with a dozen environmental and Alaskan groups preparing to file a new challenge to the auction.
The Bureau of Land Management regulation set to be issued Friday has drawn fire from industry leaders who insist well-tailored state rules are better than one-size-fits-all federal mandates.