Years ago, when I first grew concerned about oil and gas, it was because we had some issues in our own county. I got to thinking back about the fact that I had grown up with oil and gas in Colorado, and it seemed like Montana was definitely not as protective as other states. I’ve been living with oil and gas nearly my whole life, so I decided to get involved.
I started doing things like going to the Montana Board of Oil and Gas, which, the first couple of times, was a little scary, and then you figure out that these are just people, like you and me, and though they may have very different opinions, most of them are pretty willing to listen to you. I hope that our Senators and Trump Administration officials will listen to us now as we call for them to keep the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) methane rule in place.
In 2016, I traveled to Dickinson, North Dakota, for a BLM hearing about preventing the waste of methane from oil and gas drilling on public lands. The rule they were trying to update was 30 years old, so it seemed like an update was long overdue. An overwhelming number of those who gave testimony were in favor of updating regulations to prevent methane loss when drilling on these lands.
The new BLM methane rule was approved in November 2016. It curtails flaring, venting, and leaking of oil and gas wells when companies are developing publicly own minerals. The gases that are now being wasted at these wells have monetary value which should be realized for the American public.
Before the BLM rule, the American taxpayer was losing an estimated $330 million yearly because of this waste. Methane is also three times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, making its loss into the atmosphere a major concern. The accompanying byproducts released with methane are also a serious health hazard that can aggravate respiratory conditions in sensitive populations like children and older adults.
In the next few weeks the U.S. Senate could vote on whether to repeal these methane waste prevention protections using the Congressional Review Act. The CRA allows Congress to kill new regulations which an agency has put into effect within the last 60 days of a presidential administration and prevents any similar regulations from being enacted in the future. So, if this goes through, the Department of the Interior will not be allowed to prevent methane waste on BLM lands now or in the future. That is something Montana and the rest of the U.S. cannot afford!
During the public comment process on the BLM’s rule, around 300,000 people submitted comments. Now, with some members of Congress trying to reverse the rule, and the new Trump Administration saying they want to review it, it’s so important for everyone to weigh in with our elected officials to tell them we need to keep this rule in place.
Take Action on Methane Waste
Sue was a 2016 participant in Living With Oil and Gas. She has dealt with oil and gas development in her backyard nearly her entire life. Sue grew up Weld County Colorado, with producing oil and gas near and on her family ranch, and currently resides in Carbon County, Montana, near proposed and existing oil and gas development. She is active in Northern Plains Resource Council’s oil and gas campaigns.
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