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PNS Daily News - August 23, 2017 


Chaos expected as the President visits Nevada; New York teachers speak out about standardized test scores; and Illinois lawmakers take on gender-based price discrepancies. Those stories and more in today’s rundown.

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Deadline Nears for Congress to Overturn Methane-Waste Rule

Thursday is the deadline for the U.S. Senate to overturn methane-flaring rules, which advocates say are important to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars and harming air quality. (Wild Earth Guardians/Flickr)
Thursday is the deadline for the U.S. Senate to overturn methane-flaring rules, which advocates say are important to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars and harming air quality. (Wild Earth Guardians/Flickr)
May 10, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Just hours are left for the U.S. Senate to invoke the Congressional Review Act and overturn a Bureau of Land Management rule preventing oil and gas developers on public land from venting and flaring methane gas into the atmosphere.

The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 days to overturn newly adopted agency rules, and for the BLM methane-waste rules, that deadline is Thursday. The Senate vote could come as early as today.

Nick Lund, a senior manager for landscape conservation at the National Parks Conservation Association, said methane is a finite and valuable resource that shouldn't be wasted.

"It's also a taxpayer issue," he said. "The BLM projects that $800 million in royalties are lost from methane just being wasted up into the air. The public needs to get paid for our resources that are being wasted into the air."

The BLM has estimated that companies wasted enough gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. Lund added that royalty dollars could go to support public schools or updated infrastructure. Supporters of overturning the rules say capturing the gas is too costly for energy companies and impractical for older well sites.

If the rule is overturned, the Senate also includes a provision that prevents any similar rules from being put in place in the future. Jon Goldstein, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, said it's important the public and lawmakers understand the implications of such a move.

"That needs to be a full public process, and it needs to be a fact-based process with comment and full consideration of economic factors and environmental air quality factors, etc.," he said, "which is quite different than what's being considered before the Senate right now."

With methane being 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, Lund said, Tennessee should pay close attention to this debate.

"This is a big deal for Tennessee air quality," he said. "I know Tennessee has struggled for a long time with air quality. It's a gas that contributes to poor air quality in cities and towns nearby where it is leaked."

Since taking office, President Trump and Congress have eliminated 13 Obama-era regulations, four of which affect natural resources.

A fact sheet on the BLM methane-waste rule is online at doi.gov.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN