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Conservatives for Stewardship: Methane Waste 'Fiscally Irresponsible'

A recent study found methane flaring from oil and gas operations is 60 percent higher than previously thought. (gfpeck/Flickr)
A recent study found methane flaring from oil and gas operations is 60 percent higher than previously thought. (gfpeck/Flickr)
August 10, 2018

BISMARK, N.D. – Critics are concerned about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's expected proposal to roll back rules regulating methane flaring from oil and gas wells.

The push to limit funding the Obama-era waste rules gained support from North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer in a recent appropriations bill. Supporters of the rollback say the rules are burdensome and that industry needs certainty.

But David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, says oil and gas companies, some of which drill on public lands, would benefit from capturing lost methane.

"Waste has never been conservative,” says Jenkins. “And more importantly, when you're talking about taxpayer resources, allowing those to be frittered away through flaring or leaks and just basically carelessness, that's fiscally irresponsible, which also is not very conservative."

A recent study in the journal Science found methane releases from oil and gas operations in the U.S. are 60 percent higher than previously thought, potentially wasting $2 billion in energy each year.

Although it doesn't last in the atmosphere as long, methane is more than 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas in its first two decades after release than carbon dioxide.

Jenkins says many oil and gas companies actually are on board with these regulations. But he believes Cramer is catering to companies that only want to do the minimum that they can get away with when it comes to waste prevention.

"It seems like when people are too beholden to special interests, all they're doing is looking very short-term and about short-term profit considerations,” says Jenkins. “They're not looking at a long-term policy that's in the best interest of not only our generation, but our children and our grandchildren."

Jenkins adds some Republicans have been reluctant to join the fight against climate change, but regulating methane flaring and venting would be one of the easiest ways to make progress on this problem – short of policies many Republicans object to, such as carbon pricing.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND