Victory for taxpayers and clean air!

May 10, 2017

BLM, methane


By Emily Hornback, WCC Community Organizer

Western Colorado residents cheer the survival of methane capture rule

Industry failed to kill the BLM methane rule in the Senate

Grand Junction — Western Colorado Congress and Citizens for Clean Air celebrated today as the clock ran out on the Senate’s ability to repeal an Obama administration rule that requires oil and gas companies to capture methane gas from operations on public and tribal lands. Early this morning, the Senate voted 51-49 to not proceed with the debate on the resolution to disapprove the BLM Methane Waste Reduction Rule.

Senator Bennet voted against the motion to debate the rule, but Senator Gardner voted to allow the motion to continue. Senator Gardner remained publicly undecided on the rule till the end and as of this morning, it is still unknown how he would have voted on the issue had the debate continued.

“Western Colorado Congress and our members across the region are pleased to see the Senate, including our own Colorado Senator Bennet, side with taxpayers and public land owners across the country to keep the BLM methane rule intact,” said Rodger Steen of Western Colorado Congress.

“This rule has wide spread support from people across the West and across the political spectrum. It saves taxpayers money on lost royalties that are literally being flared, leaked, and vented into the air from public oil and gas leases on public lands. The only real entity opposing the rule was the industry, which spent millions of dollars trying to kill it. It is good to see that common sense protections supported by a majority of people across the country can still win the day in Congress,” Steen concluded.

The Colorado State of the Rockies reported that 83% of Coloradans and 81% of people across the Western states supported keeping the rule in place.

“An added benefit of the rule is that methane and toxic wastes will be captured instead of released into the air we breathe,” said Karen Sjoberg, chair of Citizens for Clean Air in Grand Junction. “We are grateful that the rule remains intact and can help cut down on cross-border air pollution from neighboring states like Utah, which do not have state rules to limit methane. This is a win for air quality in Western Colorado.”

Recent air quality reports from the American Lung Association show that Colorado counties bordering other oil and gas producing states, such as Rio Blanco next to Utah and La Plata next to New Mexico, have high levels of ozone, caused primarily by venting and leaking of natural gas wells with poor emission controls.

Colorado’s Senator Cory Gardner was a key vote on the issue but it was Senator McCain (R- A) & Senator Heide Heitkamp (D-ND) who were the surprise swing votes that halted the motion. Senator Michael Bennet staunchly supported the rule throughout the process and voted with other Democrats to stop debate on the rule.

Both organizations expressed gratitude to Sen. Bennet for his support of the rule and look forward to working with political leaders on all levels to keep the rule safe from further attacks.

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