Laura Legere’s article outlining Gov. Tom Wolf’s finalized efforts to curb methane pollution from future sources of oil and gas operations is great news for families (June 8, “Pa. Gets New Shale Gas Well Standards”). While safeguards from air pollution are under attack at the federal level, moms across Pennsylvania, including those directly impacted by oil and gas development, like me, strongly support the governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in this action.
Now it’s time to finish the job and enact commonsense rules to combat methane pollution from the tens of thousands of existing sources across the commonwealth. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas released by the oil and gas industry, comes packaged with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause cancer and contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog) that exacerbates asthma and other lung ailments in our most vulnerable citizens, our children.
The oil and gas industry doesn’t have nearly the same footprint within Arizona as it does elsewhere, but the Grand Canyon State is definitely dealing with the impact from its larger- producing neighbors.
In 2014, NASA discovered that oil and gas operations were largely responsible for a methane cloud the size of Delaware hovering over the Four Corners region. Although there is little oil and gas production in the state, Arizonans are stuck dealing with the pollution and health factors being produced next door.
These effects will only be exacerbated if Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal, which effectively guts the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste and Prevention Rule, succeeds.
I would like to issue our elected officials a challenge — let’s stop treating the health of Americans and the quality of our natural environment as partisan challenges and instead embrace them as moral obligations.
New Mexico is a state with a wide variety of natural resources, but we need to acknowledge that we are facing a serious problem with natural gas waste. Methane is a colorless, odorless and invisible component of natural gas, which is released into the air through oil and gas industry practices such as venting and burning off through flaring or simply through loss caused by leaky equipment. Methane isn’t harmless – it can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks, worsen respiratory conditions and cause cancer.
More troubling is that significant levels of these emissions are being generated in operations conducted on our public and tribal lands every day. In 2014, NASA announced it had found a methane “hot-spot” the size of Delaware hovering over the Four Corners region – where the boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado all meet. NASA also determined that methane waste from oil and gas operations are major contributors to the methane plume, that only 10 percent of the methane sources contribute half of all emissions and that leaking storage tanks and pipelines are major culprits of emissions.
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.
Every year millions of taxpayer dollars are lost on wasted natural gas in North Dakota and other western states. With the country facing increasing debt and growing deficits this is no time to give away billions of dollars to profitable businesses.
The Department of the Interior administers mineral leasing on 245 million acres of public lands, including almost 60,000 acres in North Dakota. Under the agency’s oversight, oil and gas operators have been flaring, venting, and leaking billions of cubic feet of taxpayer-owned natural gas from federal lands every year. This gas doesn’t get to consumers, and doesn’t generate revenue for taxpayers — it literally goes up in smoke.
Oil and gas companies have only had to pay royalties on a very small portion of this “lost gas.” In our latest analysis, Gas Giveaways, my group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, found that from 2007 to 2016, operators lost nearly 210 billion cubic feet of gas. That’s enough natural gas to supply the residents of North Dakota for 19 years. And it’s worth an estimated $1.1 trillion, but operators paid royalties on only 11 percent of it.
Pennsylvania powers America.
We understand the value of the resources under our feet and the hard work invested in obtaining them. We're not people to put up with unfair prices and waste resources. So, why are we literally letting tons of natural gas float away?
In 2015, the state calculated that 112,100 tons of methane from unconventional (hydrofracked) wells went to waste, unused due to leakages in our gas wells. And that's on the low side; an outside estimate suggested we may in fact be losing five times as much.
During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to listen to "forgotten America", the folks who live and work in America's heartland. So far, the Trump Administration listens more to big donors and their fossil fuel friends that poured money into his campaign than the the people he promised to protect. President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke have a new opportunity to listen to Americans instead of lobbyists, but will they?
The Interior Department is currently reviewing comments on its proposed plan to dismantle a standard that would limit methane leaks and flaring from petroleum and natural gas wells on Federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In the past few weeks that open comments have been accepted, almost 45,000 pro-life Christians submitted 10% of the total comments received, all of them telling Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration to preserve the rule.
The First Amendment grants every citizen the right to petition their government for "a redress of grievances", and we're grieved that the Trump Administration would put the self-interests of big donors and his golf buddies before the health of our children, both unborn and born.
Pennsylvania's constitution reads: "The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment."
Yet, presently, the natural gas extraction industry is literally setting fire to public resources, and deny the public a fair share of resources.
The former Obama administration put in place a rule that requires extractors of methane, oil and gas to capture methane emission, fix leaky equipment to capture the gas and keep it from needlessly escaping into the environment. This does two things: prevents the waste of a limited, public resource and ensures royalties are paid in full to the public.
As a child, I was concerned about pollution and how we care for God’s creation. Now, as CEO of United Methodist Women, I am part of an 800,000-member organization that has worked to care for creation for decades and for the welfare of women, children and youth for almost 150 years.
As women of faith, we believe we have a responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation. Helping to stem climate change is a priority for us because of this charge to care for creation and because women, children and young people in vulnerable communities are the hardest hit by the impact of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.
Thousands of United Methodist Women members, in Columbus this week for our quadrennial assembly, will take a moment from our 150th anniversary celebration to help secure a habitable planet Earth for women, children and youths for today and centuries to come.
About one year ago, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted to uphold common-sense standards that reduce methane waste, which not only protect public health but provide much needed local revenue to western communities.
Now, a year later, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the whole Trump administration are still disregarding the public's will and are continuing to try and sell off rural America's public health and economic potential to special interests by gutting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) methane waste rule.
The popular pollution limits reduce the amount of methane, the main component of natural gas, leaking and intentionally released and burned off from oil and gas operations on public lands owned by American taxpayers. Besides the methane component being a green house gas that is 86 times worse than CO2, wasted natural gas also contains amounts of benzene and ethylbenzene, known carcinogens, and the burning creates the components that react in sunlight to form ground level ozone Stopping that waste makes sense from a public health standpoint, but an economic one too.