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Faith Groups Urge Oil and Gas Industry to Support BLM Methane Rules

Church groups and shareholders are asking the oil and gas industry to embrace rules to reduce methane waste. (Pixabay)
Church groups and shareholders are asking the oil and gas industry to embrace rules to reduce methane waste. (Pixabay)
August 25, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Faith leaders and oil and gas shareholders called on trade groups, including the Western Energy Alliance, to drop their opposition to the Bureau of Land Management's new rules limiting methane waste on public and tribal lands in letters sent Wednesday.

Chesie Lee, executive director at the Wyoming Association of Churches, said that less waste means more money for companies, and more royalties collected by the state.

"I think it would be better if industry, rather than saying, 'We don't want to be policed,' would be more cooperative,” Lee said. "You know, Wyoming's a beautiful state, and we just want to get the most out of our resources that we can."

According to Lee, over $300 million worth of gas is wasted each year through flaring, venting and leaks - more than $42 million is lost in Wyoming alone. The Western Energy Alliance said the BLM's rules are unnecessary because the industry is already recovering waste, and carbon emissions linked to climate change are going down because power plants use natural gas instead of coal.

Scientists say methane traps heat in the atmosphere 80 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide.

For Lee, reducing waste is an extension of her faith - and the values of the American West - because it is an act of good stewardship of the environment. With the Wyoming State Legislature's recent moves to cut funding for schools and health care, Lee said she thinks now is not the time to let critical resources vanish into thin air.

"We're facing severe budget cuts because of the downturn in energy-related tax revenues, and it's not something that Wyoming can afford to lose,” Lee said. "It's really the working poor and children that are suffering the most from this."

The EPA set methane pollution limits for all new oil and gas production. The BLM is expected to finalize rules to limit methane waste at new and existing sites by year's end.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY