Last summer, oil and gas-industry groups were lobbying to overturn federal rules on leaks of natural gas, a major contributor to climate change. Their message: The companies had emissions under control. In private, the lobbyists were saying something very different. At a discussion convened last year by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a group that represents energy companies, participants worried that producers were intentionally flaring, or burning off, far too much natural gas, threatening the industry’s image, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times.
“We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, at the June 2019 gathering, held in Colorado Springs. “This pesky natural gas,” he said. “The value of it is very minimal,” particularly to companies drilling mainly for oil. A well can produce both oil and natural gas, but oil commands far higher prices. Flaring it is an inexpensive way of getting rid of the gas.
The recording runs 1 hour 22 minutes, opening with a moderator’s remarks and concluding with a panel discussion that covered a wide range of issues including job creation, the threats posed by solar and wind energy, and the federal leasing of oil and gas rights. The audio was provided by an organization dedicated to tracking climate policy that said the recording had been made by an industry official who attended the meeting.