To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, a million here, several tens of thousands of dollars there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
Much has been written in recent weeks about cabinet secretaries’ profligate use of charter aircraft at the taxpayers’ expense. While Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price racked up almost a million dollars in flights this year — a revelation that led to his abrupt resignation — other Trump administration officials including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have also been racking up the miles.
Zinke’s more than $12,000 charge for a charter flight home to Montana and Pruitt’s $58,000 in private and military flights should rightly raise the hackles of taxpayers.
While Colorado has made huge strides in recent years to maintain a strong economy and strong environmental protections, air quality remains a challenge across the Front Range. From Fort Collins to Highlands Ranch, we still fail to meet national clean air standards.
Clean air is a nonnegotiable for Coloradans. Without it, we cannot enjoy our beautiful blue skies and our quality of life is degraded.
At current levels, the ozone (smog) in the Front Range poses a significant health risk to children and seniors – especially those with asthma or other respiratory problems. In Colorado, more than 30,000 childhood asthma attacks are attributable to our current ozone levels.
Smart business leaders know that wasting resources is bad for your bottom line and the American
economy as a whole.
That is why we were so pleased when in mid-May, the U.S. Senate — including Arizona’s Sen. John McCain — stood up for good public policy and new American businesses by voting against a bill that would have rolled back the Bureau of Land Management’s
Methane Waste Rule.
The measure, which failed 51-49, would have led to the continued waste of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-owned energy resources.
As members of the team that developed the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, we write to thank Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) for joining their Democratic and independent colleagues in successfully opposing a congressional resolution to overturn that rule.
The United States is the largest natural gas producer in the world, yet the public does not benefit fully from this energy resource. Between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas producers on public and Indian lands leaked, released or flared enough gas to supply more than 6 million households for a year. This wasted gas pollutes the air and costs federal taxpayers, states and tribes millions in lost royalties. The BLM rule will require producers to repair leaks, replace outdated equipment and use industry-developed best practices to reduce other losses. But the rule faces another threat: At President Trump’s direction, the Interior Department stated that it will review and “suspend, revise, or rescind” the rule. Thus far, this administration has focused on environmental rules’ costs, willfully ignoring the climate crisis and the public-health benefits of reducing pollution. Any changes to the methane rule must be made through a fair and open rulemaking process. If the department engages in such a process, its experts will conclude — as before — that there are cost-effective ways to reduce gas waste, recoup appropriate royalties for the public, reduce impacts on nearby communities, and protect public and Indian lands, air, water and wildlife for future generations.
“And even though it’s still relatively new, positive results are already obvious. A survey of oil and gas operators in the state earlier this year, conducted by the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions, showed that Colorado’s rule has improved air quality and promoted worker safety. Also, many in industry are profiting because, instead of releasing natural gas into the atmosphere, it is being used to heat homes and power buildings.”
For companies motivated to be proactive, we recommend focusing on fixing the leaks from the wells that leak the most methane. We would also strive for early compliance, that is comply with the rules at a faster pace than required by the new rules. By capturing the methane revenue earlier in time the economic return from compliance will increase along with corporate social responsibility – both of which can attract investors.
Wasting our natural resources goes against what we teach our kids. Hunters and anglers use all of what we kill or catch, and we feel the same about our natural resources – including taxpayer-owned natural gas resources on our public lands.