Environmentalists, Oil and Gas Groups Respond to U.S. Senate Vote to Keep Methane Rules

May 11, 2017

Environmentalists are cheering the U.S. Senate’s decision Wednesday not to rescind an Obama-administration rule requiring less waste of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

Three Republicans crossed the aisle during the 51 to 49 vote against bringing the rule up for debate. The rule requires energy companies operating on public lands to capture methane instead of venting and flaring it into the atmosphere when seeking more lucrative products such as oil.

Jimbo Buickerood of the San Juan Citizens Alliance tells KSJD the rule makes sense.

“The estimated amount of resource of methane that is being wasted right now, either vented or flared, is in excess of $300 million per year, which is a phenomenal amount of the resource to waste,” he says. 

But Kathleen Sgamma of the industry nonprofit Western Energy Alliance disagrees. “We think this rule just adds red tape with very little environmental benefit, and it is well beyond the authority of BLM,” she says. 

The New York Times reports that La Plata County, Colorado, Commissioner Gwen Lachelt spoke to Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the three defectors, not long before the vote. She reportedly talked about the methane “hot spot” covering the Four Corners and how it is unaffected by state boundaries. McCain reportedly has said he voted against rescinding the rule because the Senate now has the opportunity to rewrite it.

Click below to listen to the full interviews with Kathleen Sgamma and Jimbo Buickerood.