In another gift to the oil and gas industry, Congress prepares to kill a pollution protection for federal oil and gas operations.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Under an extreme and rarely-used law—the Congressional Review Act—Congress now enters the final days to act on nixing the Bureau of Land Management Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, also known as the BLM methane rule.
For the past three months, members of Congress backed by the oil and gas lobby have pushed a bill to kill the BLM methane rule, easing the pressure on polluters to comply with environmental safeguards.
That bill, S.J. Res. 11, has stalled in the Senate, with several senators wavering in their support while others have come out in favor, as tens of thousands of Americans wrote, called and tweeted at their elected officials to uphold a pollution safeguard that protects our health, climate and wallets.
Contentious battle for environmental protections
The BLM methane rule was passed late in the Obama administration and would help prevent waste and pollution from oil and gas operations that had become standard in production practices. A 5-year federal review process and support by hundreds of thousands of American taxpayers meant nothing to industry-backed members of the House of Representatives, who voted to repeal the BLM methane rule in early February.
Now, it awaits a vote in the Senate. If it passes, bill S.J. Res. 11 will surely be signed by President Trump, who has already taken a sledgehammer to many other environmental protections.
The oil and gas lobby has been pressuring Congress to put fossil fuels first, and it's paying off. Photo: Mason Cummings/TWS
Beyond disposing of a rule to stop waste and pollution, using the Congressional Review Act fast-tracks Congress’s ability to overturn rules, ignore public opinion and prevent the federal government from ever creating a similar rule. It’s a sinister method that allows Congress to wheel and deal behind closed doors.
Holding polluters accountable
While extracting oil and gas, the industry wastes methane by releasing it into the atmosphere instead of capturing and selling it, saying that it’s easier to waste it rather than capture it for energy. Under the BLM methane rule, oil and gas companies would be required to minimize this needless waste and pollution, which has been shown to threaten the air quality of tens of thousands in western states.
But the oil and gas industry doesn’t want to be responsible for this, even though there is readily-available and current technology.
They also choose to ignore that methane, the main component of natural gas, is one of the largest contributors to global warming. With 21 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions traced back to federal oil, gas and coal operations, it’s time that industry be held accountable for pollution and waste.
Don’t let fossil fuels come first on our lands
Emboldened by the new Trump era, anti-conservationists in Congress are hard at work appeasing the oil and gas industry.
Meanwhile, Trump will continue to do all he can to ramp up the production of dirty fossil fuels, which would come at great cost to our lands, climate and communities. Already Trump’s first few months involved selling out our public lands to the fossil fuel industry, as well as sweeping executive orders aimed championing fossil fuels over environmental protection and putting our national monuments at risk of development.