Navajo Nation natural gas waste report

Analysis finds rates of methane waste on tribal lands are far higher than national average

Report published March 2019

A report from Environmental Defense Fund and conservation partners, including Diné C.A.R.E., Native American Voters Alliance and Grand Canyon Trust, sheds light on the amount of natural gas wasted on Navajo Nation lands, and offers recommendations to policymakers for addressing this problem and its negative effects on human health, the environment and economy.

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The analysis estimates the amount of methane burned, vented or leaked across the oil and gas supply chain within the Navajo Nation and quantifies the economic value of that lost gas based on market prices.

Key findings

Methane emissions take a disproportionate toll on Navajo communities, and the numbers speak for themselves:

  • Oil and gas companies on Navajo Nation lands emit 13,000 tons of methane per year, the equivalent of 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • The volume of lost natural gas is worth $3.4 million and causes the Navajo Nation to forgo up to $850,000 in tax and royalty revenue every year.
  • 3.8 percent of natural gas produced on Navajo Nation lands is emitted, an emissions rate 65 percent higher than the national average.
  • The methane pollution problem on the Navajo Nation carries the same climate impact as 235,000 automobiles per year.

Additional background

Oil and gas has been produced on the Navajo Nation since the 1920s. Unfortunately, widespread waste of these energy resources has carried significant consequences for Navajo communities and their environment.

The Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to enact policies to curb pollution like methane from oil and gas production and has begun to do so. According to the International Energy Agency, up to 50 percent of methane emissions could be avoided at no net cost to producers.

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