Congressman Lowenthal Introduces Legislation Mandating Reporting Of Emissions From Energy Production On Federal Lands

January 16, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), today introduced legislation to increase transparency of energy producers utilizing public lands through the Federal energy leasing programs. The bill would require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to disclose to Congress and the public not just the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions from these projects, but also the exact sources of emissions.

H.R.5636, the Transparency in Energy Production Act, would allow the American people to have information about the impact of fossil fuels by having companies who hold, or are seeking, a lease to drill on federal lands, record and report the resulting emissions that come from drilling on the land or in the water. The legislation requires industry-developed reporting standards established by the nationally recognized Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) to ensure quality reporting.

"The foundation of any successful plan to reduce emissions is to first quantify the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being emitted and where are they coming from," Congressman Lowenthal said. "Increasing the transparency around energy production programs on federal lands and waters, will go a long way toward eliminating what has often been called the "blind spot" of our federal energy program. The American people deserve transparency and have the absolute right to know how their government is impacting the environment.”

In a 2016 report entitled Oil and Gas: Interior could do more to account for and manage natural gas emissions, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the DOI does not currently have the necessary information to understand and limit the emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

If all federal lands were considered together, they would collectively represent the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, behind only China, India, the U.S., and Russia. As, the federal government is one of the world’s largest oil and gas lease asset managers, its decisions have a large impact on the nation’s energy portfolio.

“Our public lands offer a tangible step for the federal government to take meaningful action to reduce climate emissions,” The Wilderness Society Senior Representative for Energy and Climate Program Katie Gilman said. “The Transparency in Energy Production Act ensures we are measuring and tracking those emissions annually so we can better manage them. We thank Representative Lowenthal for leading the effort to ensure the federal government is held accountable when managing our shared resources.”

“The Business Coalition for Conservation and Climate, a coalition of leading executives and investors, applauds Representative Lowenthal for introducing the Transparency in Energy Production Act,” Business Coalition for Conservation and Climate Executive Director Isaac Brown said. “This bill inserts common-sense disclosure measures, which are already widely used, into the public oil and gas leasing process.  Through its management of energy resources on public lands, the US government is one of the largest energy asset managers in the world.  TEPA will allow the American people access to critical information about the amount of oil and gas developed in these areas and what their impact is on our climate.”

 “It’s no secret that oil and gas development can spell long-term threats to clean air, clean water, national parks and communities,” National Parks Conservation Association Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs Ani Kame’enui said. “We deserve to know if new development threatens cultural sites near Mesa Verde National Park or clean air at Rocky Mountain. This commonsense legislation brings a measure of accountability to skyrocketing oil and gas lease sales by ensuring companies make impacts known to Congress and the American public.”

“Fossil fuel industries have been able to profit off our federal lands and publicly-owned resources for too long with minimal accountability to the American public,” Natural Resources Defense Council Director of Lands Sharon Buccino said. “This bill goes a long way towards enabling us to know how our lands are used.”

“We applaud Congressman Lowenthal for his efforts to increase transparency about extractive production and greenhouse emissions on our public lands,” Legislative Representative for the League of Conservation Voters Laura Forero said. “Despite the Trump administration and Big Polluters’ efforts to gut key environmental provisions, it is crucial to keep the extractive industry accountable for activities on our precious lands and waters. We are in a climate crisis and the public deserves to know the impacts that extractive activities on public lands have on our air and water quality, biodiversity, and climate.”

To read the full text of the bill click here.