Document Type


Publication Date



Special issue: Law and Policy for Gas Flaring in a Low-Carbon Economy.

This essay interrogates the regulation of routine venting and flaring of natural gas as a source of prohibited “waste,” using New Mexico’s recently adopted Waste Rule as an example. It begins with a survey of both the environmental and economic benefits to be achieved by limiting or eliminating venting and flaring and the direct and indirect costs of doing so, including the forgone opportunity to produce crude oil. Then the essay explains the common law and statutory definitions of “waste” to demonstrate that the concept implicates a balancing of the costs and benefits of any given production practice to determine whether it is justified or wasteful. Finally, the essay applies existing law to routine venting and flaring of associated gas in the Permian Basin, which the Waste Rule has effectively banned. The result of this analysis is that the Waste Rule prohibits some venting and flaring that would not necessarily constitute waste under existing law. In conclusion, the essay argues that waste is the wrong legal rubric for efforts to reduce or eliminate methane emissions from oil and gas operations and that policymakers should instead seek legal means that are better aligned with their true purpose: fighting climate change.


Oil, Gas & Energy Law (OGEL)

Publication Title

Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence Law Journal





First Page

17 pages total


Posted May 20, 2022 with permission of publisher.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.