Conservatives Defend BLM Natural-Gas Waste Rule
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A recent Ozone Action Day warning by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is among the reasons conservative groups are standing up for new Bureau of Land Management standards aimed at limiting natural gas waste on public lands.
The rule directing the oil and gas industry to capture methane lost through leaks, venting and flaring is under threat since the U.S. House moved to roll it back.
David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, says the rule not only reduces harmful air pollution, it also conserves energy that could be put to good use.
"There's nothing conservative about waste,” he states. “These are assets owned by you and me, and every other taxpayer in the country.
“We want to make sure that when oil and gas companies have the privilege of taking those assets and making a profit off of them, they do so responsibly and they don't cut corners."
Jenkins adds lost gas means lower royalty revenues, which Wyoming relies on to fund schools and other public services.
Companies operating on Wyoming public lands waste more than $42 million worth of natural gas a year, according to a report by ICF International.
Industry leaders say the rule would add red tape and slow production. The U.S. Senate could vote to reverse it as early as next week.
A recent Colorado College poll found 87 percent of Wyoming residents across party lines support the BLM's efforts to limit waste.
Jenkins adds the legislative maneuver that Congress is using to overturn the methane waste rule is particularly disturbing for future conservation efforts.
"In the worst way possible, I mean the Congressional Review Act,” he explains. “Not only does it undo that particular rule that the previous administration did, but it also forbids the agency from doing any kind of similar rule."
Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming both support rolling back the BLM rule, which was passed during the final months of the Obama administration.