Washington, D.C. – Led by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-3), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Natural Resources, a group of Western lawmakers sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to maintain the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, and to listen to Westerners through public hearings and an extended comment period prior to any revision of the rule. U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and U.S. Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), and Jared Polis (D-CO-2) also signed the letter.
On February 12, 2018, the BLM announced a proposal to revise the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule ("methane rule"), which limits methane pollution from oil and gas operations on public lands.
In this week’s letter, the lawmakers expressed concern with the "inadequate measures" the BLM is taking to consider public input in revising the methane rule. They requested the BLM immediately schedule public hearings on the proposal—particularly in the West, where the majority of drilling activity on federal lands occurs—and extend the public comment period from the proposed 60 days to 90 days.
"We hope the BLM will provide the same level of public input that went into creation of the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention rule," the lawmakers wrote. In 2016, this included more than half a dozen public meetings and consideration of 330,000 comments through an extended comment period, resulting in 75 percent of Westerners supporting the rule.
Under the proposed revision, the BLM will cost taxpayers up to $1 billion in wasted natural gas and pollution, in comparison to keeping the existing methane rule in place.
"Waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas is a significant fiscal issue on public and tribal lands," the lawmakers wrote. "We call on BLM to address this problem by maintaining the 2016 methane waste rule and by undertaking extensive public outreach in considering any changes to this rule."
A copy of the letter is available HERE.