OPINION: U.S. Senate Votes to Preserve Methane Rule
By Alan Septoff
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted not to block an Interior Department regulation that will reduce methane emissions and associated toxic air pollution from oil and gas operations on public lands. Oil and gas industry advocates in Congress attempted to use the Congressional Review Act to roll back these common-sense rules, but failed by a 49 to 51 vote.
The rule, finalized by the Department of Interior in 2016, prevents natural gas waste, saving both the taxpayers and the energy industry money in the long term. This important rule also protects public health and the climate. Carcinogens like benzene, are often colocated within methane emissions; methane is a potent greenhouse gas.
Statement of Earthworks’ Policy Director Lauren Pagel: “Today the Senate took an important step to protect our health and climate from methane and the toxic air pollution that’s released along with it. Oil and gas operations across the country threaten clean air and waste taxpayer dollars, sending our precious natural resources up in flames. Clean air and healthy communities shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We’re thankful to Senators Graham, Collins and McCain for crossing the aisle to maintain common sense safeguards that benefit all Americans.”
Statement of Gwen Lachelt La Plata County Commissioner from southwestern Colorado: “Today is a good day for the pocketbook and health of people in my county, and for all Americans. Thanks to Senators Bennet and McCain, the Interior Department’s rule to cut methane waste and pollution will go into effect, despite the best efforts of the oil and gas lobby to block it.”
Statement of New Mexico rancher Don Schreiber: “I cannot thank Senators Udall and Heinrich enough for fighting to protect ranchers like me across the southwest from methane waste and pollution. I’ve got over 120 wells on my ranch that are covered by the Interior Department’s rule to cut the oil and gas industry’s methane waste and toxic air pollution that is released along with it. Now that the Senate voted to allow it to go into effect, we can all breathe a little easier.”
Statement of Earthworks Energy Program Director, Bruce Baizel: “Although his vote was thankfully overridden, Senator Cory Gardner today voted to put the health of Coloradans, and all Americans, at risk while picking their pockets. Air pollution from the oil and gas industry doesn’t respect state boundaries, leaving western Coloradans breathing toxic pollution from Utah and other states. Senator Gardner’s vote makes it clear he values oil and gas executives’ salaries over common sense rules to prevent waste.”
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.