Proposed Methane Waste Rule Change "Eviscerates" Regulation, Critics Say
Friday, April 20, 2018
HELENA, Mont. – The public has a few more days to comment on a change to the Bureau of Land Management's methane waste prevention rule. Critics say the change will leave the regulation toothless.
The current rule, which took half a decade to create, was designed to cut down on the venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands. It's estimated Obama-era rules would have saved taxpayers $330 million a year, the estimated value of the gas that escapes into the atmosphere.
Pat Wilson is a retired rancher who used to live near an oil operation in Montana. He says efforts to undo this rule are part of the new administration's short-sighted approach to land management.
"It's part of the current culture of thumbing one's nose at science, and thumbing one's nose at any possibility that human action can result in environmental harm," says Wilson. "It's just so wrong-headed."
The BLM, under the direction of Ryan Zinke's Interior Department, says the rule as it stands now is too cumbersome for companies.
Wilson is a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, which delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures opposing changes to Montana's congressional delegation in early April. The public has until Monday to comment on the rule change at 'regulations.gov.'
Wilson ended up moving out of Montana because his wife's asthma was exacerbated by an oil-drilling operation less than a thousand feet from his front door. He says her condition became so bad over the last decade that she once fainted.
"It became increasingly apparent to her especially, and also to me, that if she's going to live through this thing, we're going to have to move” he says. “So we did."
In six western states, including Montana, more than 74,000 people live within a half-mile of an oil or gas facility on public lands.
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