Proposals under the Trump administration to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s common-sense 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule – regulating the leaking, venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas wells on public lands – will have devastating impacts on the health and environment of communities dependent on responsible development practices.
As the current mayor and longtime resident of Ophir, I have seen the benefits implementation of Colorado’s strong state-wide methane safeguards have had at the local and state level. In fact, since Colorado’s methane rule went into effect, leakage rates have been reduced by 75 percent and seven out of 10 producers said that the benefits outweigh the costs, as they are able to sell methane that would have otherwise been wasted. Developers and communities intricately linked to public lands across the country could benefit from implementation of the methane waste rule. Why then, is the administration ignoring American interests?
Oil and gas companies waste $330 million worth of natural gas each year due to unregulated leaking, venting and flaring from wells on public lands. This waste shortchanges taxpayers by millions of dollars because royalties aren’t collected from oil and gas companies venting and flaring methane. In addition, the public is forced to unnecessarily bear the health and environmental impacts from the very potent greenhouse gases emitted by methane waste.
In Ophir, we value close access to public lands and clean air. However, our proximity to the Four Corners – a methane hotspot – threatens the clean air our kids need to breathe. This pollution can be captured and sold if the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule were to be implemented.
In fact, according to the “2017 State of the Rockies Conservation in the West Poll,” 81 percent of Westerners, and specifically 83 percent of Coloradans, support requiring oil and gas companies operating on public lands to prevent methane gas leaks and reduce the need to burn off excess natural gas.
Secretary Zinke’s actions to dismantle the methane waste rule not only ignores the public’s overwhelming support for safeguards limiting methane waste, but his proposed rule flies in the face of common-sense natural resource and public lands management.
According to BLM’s own analysis, the latest proposal to replace the 2016 rule would actually reduce natural gas supply from federal lands and would cost Americans more than $1 billion in wasted natural gas and pollution – this is simply unacceptable.
And instead of allowing residents of my community and those across the West to weigh in by hosting public meetings, Secretary Zinke is choosing to ignore what families, business owners, and even what oil and gas companies want.
The residents of and visitors to Ophir and other Western communities deserve their fair share of royalties from captured methane and clean air to breathe. Secretary Zinke and the BLM need to listen to Americans and implement the common-sense 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule rather than harmfully remove critical methane emission safeguards.
Corinne Platt is the current mayor of Ophir. She has lived and recreated in Ophir and Telluride for more than 20 years, where she pursues her passions for writing and finding solutions to environmental issues in the West.