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Faith Groups Send Letter Praising BLM Methane Limits

Faith groups are praising new Bureau of Land Management rules to curb methane waste on public lands. (Energy.gov)
Faith groups are praising new Bureau of Land Management rules to curb methane waste on public lands. (Energy.gov)
November 30, 2016

DENVER – Leaders from the faith community in Colorado and across the Southwest are sending a letter today to President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanking them for adopting new rules to limit methane waste on public and tribal lands. The letter said the policy is in sync with church efforts to counter wasteful attitudes and behaviors that Pope Francis has called a "throwaway culture."

Adrian Miller is executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches, one of some 25 groups to sign the letter.

"People of faith do care about God's creation and about being better stewards of the earth," he said. "But we also are mindful that this is an important industry, and we like this rule because we think it strikes a good balance."

He said the oil and gas industry is critical for Colorado's economy, particularly in rural areas, and said limiting waste can increase production. President-elect Donald Trump hasn't taken a position on methane limits but has promised to roll back regulations on fossil-fuel development. Miller said he hopes the faith community's support for the Bureau of Land Management's rules will help convince the incoming administration to keep them in place.

Miller also said that gas lost on public lands isn't processed and brought to market, so reducing waste also means more money from royalties going into tax coffers to help pay for schools, roads and other needs.

"Capturing this methane gas will also help state and local governments," he added. "It's a win-win for the taxpayers, it's a win-win for those concerned about our environment and it's also a win-win for companies because it will help them be more efficient in what they do."

The EPA has also set methane-pollution limits for new oil and gas production in an effort to improve air quality. According to an Environmental Defense Fund study, $330 million worth of gas currently is lost through leaks, flares and venting, enough energy to supply a city the size of Denver for a year.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO