Methane Gas Waste on Colorado Tribal & Federal Lands Legislation & Mi Familia Vota

Methane gas burn off
Cut Methane Waste in Colorado for the Health of Our Children and Our State
 
By Carla Castedo
 
Right now methane waste is happening in Colorado and across the country. When methane, the primary component of natural gas, is released into the air through industry practices such as venting, burning off through flaring, or loss through leaky equipment, valuable resources that belong to U.S taxpayers are depleted and our health is unnecessarily put at risk.
 
Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a federal agency that administers more than 264 million acres of public lands, adopted a rule to cut natural gas waste on federal and tribal lands. This rule will help improve our air quality and our public health, especially for Latino and Native American communities, and will ensure a fair return to tribal governments. The rule will also spur innovation and create jobs.
 
Any day now, the Senate will vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn this rule and prevent the agency from future action. Mi Familia Vota opposes this measure that, if approved, will permanently harm Colorado taxpayers and pollute the air throughout the West. As a Latino organization concerned about public health and the potential loss of finances to bolster vital community services, we call on Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) to vote no.
 
Colorado has a proud tradition of protecting its valuable (and stunningly beautiful) natural resources. In 2014, Colorado became the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, with the goal of shrinking its carbon footprint and improving local air quality. In fact, the current BLM rules are modeled after these effective Colorado regulations.
 
Emitting methane is dangerous. Its release can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks, especially in children, worsen respiratory conditions, and cause cancer.  These conditions may disproportionally affect the Latino community, which comprises 21 percent of all Colorado constituents. And recently, NASA discovered that oil and gas operations were largely responsible for a methane cloud the size of Delaware that hovers over the Four Corners region, which includes Colorado’s southwestern corner.
 
Sadly, oil and gas companies waste more than $330 million worth of natural gas on federal and tribal lands each year. That’s enough natural gas to supply a city the size of Chicago for a year! Furthermore, Colorado (and all American) taxpayers could lose out on $800 million over the next decade in a business-as-usual scenario, even if natural gas operations happen in other states. Half of those revenues go to reclamation and the general treasury, the other half would go to energy-producing states to help fund education, road, bridges, and more.
 
Keeping the BLM natural gas waste rule in place will help ensure that when energy prices recover, oil and gas development will be accomplished responsibly and that there will be a fair return to taxpayers in Colorado, and throughout the U.S.  The measure will also help to decrease health-related problems associated with methane release, which is vital to the health of Latino communities, and all communities throughout the nation.
 
*Carla Castedo is the Colorado State Director of Mi Familia Vota a national civic engagement organization that advocates on social and economic issues that impact the Latino community.