Add it to the list of subsidies enjoyed by Big Oil: royalty-free “flaring” on public and tribal lands.

A new report from Friends of the Earth reveals that oil producers are burning, or flaring, millions of dollars of gas byproduct on publicly owned lands—exacerbating climate change without paying a dime. 

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“When companies are unwilling to invest in the infrastructure to capture and sell gas, the cheapest option is often to simply burn it at the wellhead, sending planet-warming CO2 directly into the atmosphere and producing air pollutants like black carbon and volatile organic compounds,” explains the report, entitled (pdf).

The boom in domestic drilling, driven by new technologies like fracking, has also triggered a boom in flaring, the study points out.

But the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which regulates the leasing of public and tribal lands for fossil fuel extraction—and therefore also flaring and venting of excess fuels—hasn’t kept up. “[A] combination of both outdated rules and lax enforcement is allowing millions of dollars worth of resources to be burned away without taxpayers or tribes seeing a dime in royalties,” states the report.

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