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PNS Daily Newscast - November 11, 2018. 


More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Groups Push Back on MT Challenge to New Methane Waste Limits

A study found $330 million worth of methane is lost through leaks, flares and venting at well sites, but federal efforts to curb these losses were met with a court challenge. (Tod Baker/Flickr)
A study found $330 million worth of methane is lost through leaks, flares and venting at well sites, but federal efforts to curb these losses were met with a court challenge. (Tod Baker/Flickr)
December 6, 2016

HELENA, Mont. – A coalition of national, state and local conservation and health organizations has filed a petition in federal court, to defend new standards that limit natural gas waste on public and tribal lands. Two oil and gas groups and the states of Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota filed suit against the BLM rules shortly after they were announced in November.

But Bill Midcap, the director of external affairs for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, thinks the BLM struck the right balance between protecting public health and helping industry operate more efficiently.

"We are not in favor of shutting down the oil industry, at all," he said. "These oil companies supply rural areas with jobs, jobs that are much-needed in rural areas. It is vital to our state's economy."

Some congressional Republicans have vowed to reverse the rules, which would go into effect days before President Obama leaves office. They believe new regulations would increase costs and say operators are already working to cut emissions. But a recent Colorado College survey found 80 percent of westerners, regardless of party affiliation, support efforts to curb methane waste on public lands.

An Environmental Defense Fund study found $330 million worth of methane, the primary component of natural gas, is lost through leaks, flares and venting. Midcap said the new rules to minimize that loss would help taxpayers get a fair return on natural resources owned by all Americans.

"The state collects royalties on the amount of gas that is put into a pipeline, that's drilled on federal production of wells," he explained. "And we'd have more money for education and more money for roads."

The health and conservation groups' petition said the BLM rules will lead to better health outcomes by reducing exposure to smog-forming compounds and carcinogens, such as benzene. The coalition said limiting methane emissions, which are over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, could also help slow climate change.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT