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Vote Expected Today or Tomorrow on BLM Methane-Waste Rule

Nevada conservation groups say it might be up to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to uphold the BLM methane-waste rule. (Wikimedia Commons)
Nevada conservation groups say it might be up to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to uphold the BLM methane-waste rule. (Wikimedia Commons)
May 10, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada could play a key role as the U.S. Senate is expected to vote today or Thursday on whether to repeal an Obama-era rule that requires oil and gas companies to prevent leaking, venting or burning off excess methane gas into the atmosphere.

The House already has voted to repeal the Bureau of Land Management's Methane Waste Rule. Now, under the Congressional Review Act, the Senate has until Thursday to kill the rule or leave it in place.

Andy Maggi, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, said he expects Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to be the key vote.

"This is a very close vote," Maggi said. "Dean Heller is likely going to be the deciding vote on whether the methane rule will continue to protect taxpayers and the public health, or if it gets rolled back as part of the Trump administration's relentless attack on environmental and public-health protections."

Supporters of the rule say methane is a potent greenhouse gas and its emissions form smog that worsens conditions for Nevada's 200,000 people with asthma. Opponents of the rule say it requires expensive methane-capture equipment and amounts to government overreach.

Ashley Korenblat, chief executive of Western Spirit Bicycling and managing director of the nonprofit group Public Lands Solutions, predicted that serious economic consequences for local communities if the methane rule goes away.

"We'll be putting all types of communities around the West at risk," Korenblat said, "because if you have a reputation for bad air quality, it's difficult to attract visitors. Nobody wants to go hiking, mountain biking or climbing in a place that has too much methane."

Supporters of keeping the rule also have pointed out that the excess methane could be brought to market and thus bring millions of additional dollars in royalties to states and tribes for schools, infrastructure and other local needs.

A fact sheet on the BLM methane-waste rule is online at

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV