Press Release: Better Utah Demonstrates How Millions of Dollars in Taxpayer Revenue Goes Up in Flames



Salt Lake City, UT Last night, money wasn’t simply being stored inside the Federal Reserve Building in downtown Salt Lake City — it was going up in flames outside.

Alliance for a Better Utah made a dramatic visualization late Thursday night of the health and fiscal impacts that come from methane waste on Utah’s public lands. The group projected the total value of natural gas lost on public lands due to venting, flaring, and leaking since 2013 onto the Federal Reserve Building, complete with methane flares on the building’s columns.

“There are thousands of active oil and gas compressors and processors on Utah’s public lands. Utah residents have missed out on over $31 million in royalties by not converting this methane into natural gas,” said Katie Matheson, communications director for Better Utah. “Utahns want cleaner air, we care about climate change, and we certainly could use that $31 million to support our schools and infrastructure.”  

This demonstration came during the open comments period for Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposal to gut the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The rule stipulates regulations which reduce natural gas waste on public lands by requiring oil and gas companies to regularly check for and repair leaking equipment and take other common sense measures. Secretary Zinke has thus far ignored requests for public hearings on the rule change.

Nationally, nearly $1.9 billion worth of natural gas from oil and gas operations has been wasted on public and tribal lands. The projection’s waste ticker highlighted the growing problem of natural gas waste and underscored the importance of keeping the 2016 methane rule strong and in place to reduce waste and protect taxpayers.

The San Juan basin, which spans across the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, is home to the highest concentration of methane pollution in the United States and currently sits under a Delaware-sized methane cloud. Additionally, without regulation preventing methane waste, Utah taxpayers lose out on millions of dollars in royalties. In 2017, Utah congressional representatives Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart, Mia Love, and former representative Jason Chaffetz all voted in favor of a failed attempt to overturn the 2016 regulation and allow methane waste on Utah lands.

A link to the Facebook Live video of the event can be found here. A link to a folder with images and videos from the event can be found here. Utahns who want to voice their opinion about the rule during the open comments period can contact the Department of the Interior here.


Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at

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