Congressman Lowenthal Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Require Online Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Pollution from Energy Production on Public Lands

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Washington, D.C., October 26, 2017 | comments

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), joined by members of the Safe Climate Caucus and bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, has introduced legislation to promote greater transparency in federal energy leasing programs by requiring the Department of the Interior (DOI) to publicly disclose the amounts and sources of greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel development on public lands.

Although the exact number is uncertain, numerous studies estimate that nearly 25 percent of the U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are from fossil fuel production on U.S. federal lands and waters.

The Transparency in Energy Production Act of 2017 would require the DOI to create an online database of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels extracted from public lands, including all vented, flared, and leaked natural gas and all fossil fuels used on-site. The bill would also mandate an annual DOI report on the amounts of energy produced by renewable energy projects on public lands. The DOI would also be required to  submit an annual report to Congress on the department’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel development on public lands.

“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, especially when it comes to methane emissions, would go a long way toward eliminating what has often been called the “blind spot” of our federal energy program.“

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 collect the necessary information to understand and limit emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This lack of information keeps the American public from learning the amount of climate-damaging greenhouse gas pollution originating from their public lands. 

This legislation is even more critical since the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management today officially rescinded its Obama-era instructions to consider climate change and to weigh the potential for increasing greenhouse gas emissions before approving energy projects.

“My legislation would direct the Department of the Interior to develop an online database that collects and centralizes the production and emissions data from fossil fuel development on public lands. The American people deserve transparency and have the absolute right to know how their government is impacting the environment,” Congressman Lowenthal said.

“This bipartisan legislation will increase the transparency of federal management of taxpayer-owned energy resources by requiring agencies disclose production and emissions information. No responsible manager would hide this information from the asset owners,” Senior Director of The Wilderness Society’s Energy and Climate Program Chase Huntley said.

Congressman Lowenthal’s Transparency in Energy Production Act of 2017 is cosponsored by Congress Members Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).

To read the full text of the bill click here.
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