As farmers in the Mancos Valley who spend an inordinate amount of time outside, we are extremely concerned about the potential roll-back of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane and Waste Prevention rule.
The rule is designed to capture wasteful leaks, and reduce venting and flaring of methane, which are threats to public health, and to prevent the loss of taxpayer revenue. Put simply, the BLM rule is about curbing natural gas waste across our public lands, and keeping our air clean.
Those of us in the Four Corners area are already living under the largest methane cloud in the country. Perhaps we should say that again: We are already living under the largest methane cloud in the country. This methane cloud is caused primarily from 25 point sources related to oil and gas throughout the Four Corners.
The BLM Methane Rule would help reduce unnecessary methane emissions from adding to that cloud. We can not simply rely on Colorado’s own state regulations to protect us when we have large oil and gas operations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah which are also adding to our methane cloud and air pollution.
Our livelihoods and our community depend on clean water from the spring snowmelt and non-toxic air to breathe. And we aren’t the only ones who value a healthy environment; the thousands of tourists who come through our valley every year come to enjoy our fresh air and our beautiful, clear vistas. Burning and leaking methane in our backyard doesn’t make sense for farmers or for our tourism and outdoor recreation economy.
Yet, thousands of miles away in Washington D.C., our Senator Cory Gardner is considering rolling back the methane regulations meant to improve this situation.
By limiting waste and pollution, BLM’s methane waste rule is good for farmers. Our farms depend on clean water for irrigation. Our families depend on clear air to work and live. The BLM rule limits methane and other toxic and smog-forming pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene from contaminating our water and our air. Without the BLM’s methane waste rule, our communities and local economy could face serious health impacts like worsened rates of cancer and childhood asthma.
Even more than just farmers, however, this rule is important for our rural economies across Colorado. Over the past few years, oil and gas companies across the country have wasted $330 million worth of natural gas, from which our communities would have received royalties if it was captured and sold instead of leaked and vented. In Colorado alone, oil and gas companies wasted $26 million worth of resources that belong to all Coloradans and could be used to fund our public schools, for instance.
Congress is prepared to let our taxpayer dollars continue going up in flames. Moreover, they’re planning to use a controversial tactic called the Congressional Review Act, also known as the CRA. If successful, the CRA would not only repeal this valuable and commonsense rule, but also prevent federal agencies from writing a similar rule ever again.
Such a serious attack on a rule that protects our health and makes sound economic sense is alarming. Unfortunately, our Congressman, Scott Tipton, already voted yes on a CRA to roll back our methane regulations. Now Senators Bennet and Gardner must vote no to protect our rural economy and environment.
We can protect the health of Coloradans while responsibly managing our public resources.
Kellie Pettyjohn, Michael Nola and Tyler Hoyt are farmers in the Mancos Valley.