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Farmers Push to Keep Natural-Gas Waste Rules Intact

A recent Colorado College poll found 83 percent of Coloradans support the BLM's efforts to limit natural gas waste.  (Pixabay)
A recent Colorado College poll found 83 percent of Coloradans support the BLM's efforts to limit natural gas waste. (Pixabay)
April 27, 2017

DENVER – Colorado's agricultural community, including farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers and restaurants, is urging U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to uphold the Bureau of Land Management's rules limiting natural gas waste on public lands.

Monica Wiitanen, who operates a farm and bakery on the Western Slope, points out nearly $330 million worth of natural gas is lost each year, and she says the state can't collect royalties to help pay for roads and schools if the gas isn't brought to market.

"Just like on a farm, you don't waste resources,” she states. “There's no reason they should be allowed to waste resources, and particularly the American taxpayer's resources."

In February, the U.S. House voted to roll back rules directing operators to capture gas lost through leaks, venting and flaring.

Industry leaders argue the rules would slow production and add red tape.

The U.S. Senate could vote to reverse the rules as early as this week.

Bennet opposes rolling them back, but Gardner has yet to say where he stands on the issue.

Working with industry, in 2014 Colorado passed measures similar to the BLM's to prevent methane pollution, which is 85 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Wiitanen notes food producers across the U.S. depend on clean air, soil and water, and says federal rules are necessary to ensure that oil and gas companies mitigate waste.

"As a farmer, clean air and a healthy environment are important,” she stresses. “There's no reason oil and gas companies shouldn't be held to a high standard to preserve the resource, not just let it vent into the atmosphere."

At least 19 Colorado mayors have joined the effort to convince lawmakers to keep the rules in place.

A recent Colorado College poll found 83 percent of Coloradans support the BLM's efforts to limit natural gas waste.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO