Report on methane pollution in Utah

PacifiCorp’s Hunter Power Plant in Castle Dale, UT. It’s one of the dirtiest in the country.

 A Salt Lake Tribune article highlights findings from a report that only furthers the body of knowledge on fossil fuels and public health. “In 2016, the report says, air pollution from the oil and gas industry led to eight deaths per million, as well as 1,040 asthma exacerbations per million among children,” the article writes.  

The report by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., the Environmental Defense Fund, and Taxpayers for Common Sense reveals the adverse effects of air pollution stemming from the oil and gas industry in Utah. 

The report stated that in 2019, Utah had approximately 12,540 actively producing oil and gas wells. Also in 2019, fossil fuel producers wasted 16 billion cubic feet of gas.

Gas wasted into the atmosphere through flaring, venting and leaking wastes money, harms the environment, contributes to climate change, and affects public health. 

Utah needs to tighten regulations and work to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

In terms of lost revenue, the report states: 

Private lands: Utah collected a severance tax of approximately 4% and a conservation tax of 0.2% on gas extracted from private lands in 2019. Private landowners may also assess a royalty rate on leases on their lands. 

Tribal lands: Royalty rates can vary on tribal lands. EDF, TCS, and Synapse decided to use 12.5% as the royalty rate for tribal lands based on interviews with federal staff. In Utah, the Navajo tribe also collects a 4% severance tax and the Ute tribe collects a 10% severance tax on gas extracted from their lands. 

State lands: Utah collects royalties of 16.67% from state leases on School and Institutional Trust Lands and 12.5% on leases in other areas. The state also collects severance and conservation taxes on gas extracted from state land. 

Federal lands: The federal government collects royalties on gas extracted from federal lands. In 2019, the royalty rate was 12.5%. The federal government returns 49% of this revenue to states. The state also collects severance and conservation taxes on gas extracted from federal land.
The final findings of the report write on the benefits of policy action, “Strong, common sense rules to cut methane waste and pollution will help slow the rate of climate change happening today, protect public health, create jobs, generate additional tax revenue, and prevent the needless waste of domestic energy resources.” There is an urgent need for Utah to address the health and environmental consequences of its oil and gas industry. Balancing economic growth with public health and environmental protection is crucial, as is adhering to EPA recommendations to reduce methane emissions for a healthier, more sustainable future.

Find the Tribune coverage of the report here.
Full report here.