Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today held a press call ahead of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public hearing on its proposed rollback of national methane standards. The hearing, titled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration,” will be held Wednesday, November 14, in Denver. Bennet also submitted a written testimony to be read on his behalf at the hearing.
A copy of Bennet’s written testimony is available HERE.
An audio file from the press call is available HERE.
An edited version of Bennet’s remarks from the press call are below:
I’d like to start off by thanking Paul Billings from the American Lung Association and Robert Kester from Rebellion Photonics for joining this call today. Their perspectives from the medical and business sectors are critical as we address tomorrow’s public hearing on the proposed rollback of EPA’s methane standards.
I just submitted my written testimony for tomorrow’s hearing, since I will be in Washington and cannot deliver it in person.
I wish I could be in Denver tomorrow, because there is no more appropriate place to hold this hearing than in Colorado. Our state is a third Republican, a third Democratic, and a third Independent. Our economy relies on a robust oil and gas sector, a growing clean energy sector, and the outdoor recreation industry. Our farmers and ranchers are facing increasing wildfire and persistent drought, and our local communities are reliant on public lands. Because of the diverse viewpoints represented in Colorado, we don’t have a choice but to work together, reconcile differences, and find consensus—a strength you don’t see much of in Washington these days.
In 2014, Coloradans found common ground and adopted the nation’s first rule to reduce methane waste and pollution. Four years later, 67% of Coloradans oppose rolling back state and federal methane standards. At first, some worried the rule would stifle energy production. In reality, Colorado’s natural gas production has continued to rise while oil and gas production has nearly doubled. At the Platteville monitoring site, methane concentrations have decreased 24 percent, while there was a 116 percent increase in production in Weld County. Others worried the rule would kill jobs. Again, the facts proved otherwise. Across the country, nearly 80 companies at over 531 locations have emerged to promote more efficient oil and gas operations. 41 of these are located in Colorado. Now across Colorado, nurses, family farmers, and more than 50 mayors and county commissioners have spoken up about the importance of regulating methane emissions.
Colorado’s experience confirms that a well-crafted rule for fugitive methane can improve public health and strengthen the economy without harming oil and gas production. In fact, in September, the President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association said: “Colorado’s air is getting cleaner, and we are proud to be part of the solution.”
With this record, it makes absolutely no sense why the Trump administration would want to repeal the national methane standards.
Nationally, analysts have found that the EPA’s methane rule could create 50,000 jobs. The rule would reduce 11 million more tons of carbon pollution. The national rule provides certainty for business and states; it is more cost-effective than even initially estimated; and—most importantly—it protects the health of our nation’s children.
This is why last month, 21 of my Senate colleagues representing 13 states joined me in sending a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler, calling on him to retain the cost-effective national standards. We also stated our unified opposition to EPA’s proposal to rescind the direct regulation of methane emissions entirely. A full repeal of the direct regulation of methane emissions will only accentuate the consequences of the weaker standards we are discussing today. It’s also why last year, the bipartisan Senate voted to prevent the Trump Administration from repealing a similar methane rule to the one EPA is trying to rollback now.
States like Colorado stand to lose if Washington puts an ideological, anti-regulation agenda over facts and experience. Many states have already followed Colorado’s lead to adopt their own rules. But without national standards, our states will see more cross-border pollution. That will mean more children and seniors sick with respiratory diseases like asthma, more exposure to wildfire and drought for our farmers and rural communities, and more difficulty complying with federal air standards. That is unfair to Colorado, and it is why the EPA needs to level the playing field with a clear national standard.
Colorado will not forsake the health of its residents for a political win, and neither should the Trump administration. The EPA must keep these proven standards in place for the sake of our air, our economy, and our health.
Bennet has a record of working to maintain national standards to reduce methane emissions:
- In October 2018, Bennet led 21 Senate colleagues in calling on the EPA to halt the rollback of methane standards.
- In April 2018, he sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to maintain the 2016 Control Techniques Guidelines for the oil and natural gas industry.
- In April 2018, he sent a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs requesting a meeting to discuss the benefits of the 2016 Control Techniques Guidelines and the EPA’s proposal to withdraw them.
- In March 2018, he led a bicameral group of Western lawmakers in urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to hold public hearings and extend the comment period prior to any revision of the BLM methane rule.
- In October 2017, he introduced the Pollution Transparency Act, a bicameral bill that would standardize the metric used by federal agencies to measure the cost of climate pollution. This would effectively prevent the Trump administration from ignoring science and economics when valuing the costs of climate change in rulemakings, including the Clean Power Plan and the Bureau of Land Management’s methane standards.
- In May 2017, he cast the fifty-first, deciding vote in a 49-51 vote count, defeating a Senate resolution to repeal the methane rule.