Commentary: Washington, DC -- Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a proposal to gut a key safeguard that would limit methane pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. This is the first major air rule proposal to come out of the Trump administration.
The proposal effectively eliminates a standard put forth by the Obama administration requiring oil and gas companies operating on public lands to limit methane pollution. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is linked to increased levels of asthma and other public health impacts and is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the time it remains in the atmosphere. This safeguard has already withstood a congressional challenge. The Sierra Club and its partners successfully overturned the Trump administration’s first delay of the original rule in court, and have filed a challenge to the Trump administration’s second delay. Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director, Camilla Feibelman, released the following statement in response: Again and again, New Mexicans have stood up to say, "don't waste our natural gas from our publicly owned lands." This message was so powerful that even Congress refused to roll these rules back. So we will stand up once again to defend against methane waste and pollution. Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas. Each year, oil and gas operators waste enough methane to meet the heating and cooking needs every home in New Mexico. This amounts to as much as $27 million in lost taxes and royalties annually. The BLM methane standards are common-sense, good-neighbor rules that would boost our state budget, create jobs, make us healthier and protect the climate. These protections benefit New Mexicans. Gutting them benefits only the oil and gas industry. Private companies take oil and gas from our public lands and waste resources that belong to all of us, only to demand more and more leases in precious places like Greater Chaco Canyon. They claim to want to protect our lands and communities, but what they really do is sacrifice them for profit.