Diane Brower: Methane rule is necessary regulation
In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management adopted a regulation requiring companies to control the amount of methane that leaks into the atmosphere as a result of oil and gas development. The rule replaced a 37-year-old regulation that didn’t reflect current technologies or best practices.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas releases millions of tons of toxic air pollutants that are linked to cancer, respiratory diseases and neurological damage.
When leaking methane is captured, it can be sold as natural gas. On the other hand, allowing methane to vent into the air wastes over $360 million in natural gas every year on federal and tribal lands.
The 2016 BLM Methane Rule was the result of a two-year process, which involved both oil and gas developers and environmental organizations. It was upheld with bipartisan support in Congress. Eighty percent of voters in Western states where oil and gas development is happening supported the effort to update equipment and technology to prevent methane leaks.
Since Colorado’s methane leak protections (similar to the BLM protections) have been in place seven out of 10 producers have said that the benefits of the rules outweigh the costs, and leakage rates have dropped 75 percent. Although Colorado’s methane leak protections are effective, many other states, our neighbors New Mexico and Utah among them, do not have such protections. The BLM Methane Rule applies to those states as well. After all, we all share the same air, the same atmosphere, and are experiencing the same increasing impacts of climate change.
However, under the appointees of the current administration the BLM is proposing to return to the 37-year-old regulation that didn’t reflect current technologies or best practices. This is part of an overzealous and misguided push to get rid of “regulations,” regardless of whether those regulations are effective, protect public health, decrease impacts on climate change or even increase profits for most oil and gas operations.
Monday, April 23 is the end of the comment period to the BLM on this effort to get rid of the 2016 Methane Rule. Please go to http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=BLM-2018-0001-0001 and click on the comment button in the upper right hand corner — urge the BLM to allow the 2016 Methane Rule to remain in place for any and all of the many reasons given above.
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