Las Vegas Sun Op-ed: The will of U.S. citizens is being undermined

The first three words of the Constitution — “We the people” — affirm the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. It’s a government in which elected officials make decisions that have in mind the best interests of all Americans, not just a few. Unfortunately, today, it seems that health, environment and prosperity are topics open to debate and often seen as a partisan challenge.

Environmental protections and regulations, like the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, address real issues affecting the health and prosperity of Americans and our environment. Americans are put at risk when elected officials fail to look past party lines and see the necessity of the rule, which seeks to curb natural gas waste by requiring oil and gas developers drilling on public lands to use the most up-to-date technology to capture wasted natural gas that is either released into the atmosphere or burnt off, and repair leaks from equipment.

Nevada is a state of incredible natural diversity. Its landscapes provide more than recreation and relaxation. These places play a vital role in our economy, our culture and our history. While the number of active facilities in Nevada is still low, the trend is pointing up — the number of acres leased for oil and gas has increased by 118 percent since 2000, and in 2015 the new acres leased was second in the nation. Furthermore, pollution isn’t contained within state boundaries and higher production from neighboring states could have an impact on Nevada — a recent NASA study discovered that oil and gas operations were largely responsible for a methane cloud the size of Delaware hovering over the Four Corners region.

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