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Trump Administration Making Good on Deregulation Promises

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is working to overturn a rule that aims to save American taxpayers royalties on up to $330 million in wasted natural gas annually. (Getty Images)
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is working to overturn a rule that aims to save American taxpayers royalties on up to $330 million in wasted natural gas annually. (Getty Images)
October 10, 2017

DENVER – In another move to strip Obama-era protections, the Trump administration is set to announce the rollback of the Clean Power Plan today.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sidestepped a Federal court's decision calling on the agency to enforce a rule limiting the waste of taxpayer-owned methane on public lands. The legislative branch weighed in on methane in May when Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet cast the 51st vote against scrapping the rule.

Candace Vahlsing, Bennet's senior adviser on energy, says delay or repeal would be bad for Colorado.

"Although Colorado has very common-sense regulations for methane, national standards are needed because pollution from outside the state can actually come to Colorado and harm the health of the children in Colorado and actually make it more burdensome for businesses in Colorado to comply with clean air regulations," she explains.

After a federal judge told the Interior Department it couldn't delay the Methane Waste Rule, Secretary Ryan Zinke set enforcement back as far as January of 2019 by opening the proposal up for public comments. Zinke has argued the move will help oil and gas companies avoid costs of complying before the deregulation process plays out.

Zinke also claims the measure is redundant because of methane limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Vahlsing notes while EPA protections can address some of the health impacts of methane pollution, the Interior Department's limits were put in place to protect assets owned by all Americans.

According to conservation groups, companies leak or intentionally waste about $330 million worth of natural gas annually, enough to supply energy to some 1.5 million homes.

"That's why it's important to keep this rule in place and to keep it on its current timeline," she adds. "Because there's millions of dollars of revenue that can be going to things like schools and other activities in Colorado and throughout the country. It's important that we start collecting that revenue and giving it back to taxpayers."

The proposal to suspend the methane rule was published in the Federal Register last Thursday and the 30-day public comment period will expire on November 6. You can put in your two cents at Regulations.gov.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO