Map of western US that shows methane emissions

By Camilla Feibelman, Chapter director

If it weren’t so effective the first five times you commented on EPA and BLM methane safeguards, I wouldn’t ask you to do it again.

And I definitely wouldn’t ask you if it weren’t so very important. Methane that is leaked, vented or flared from oil and gas operations is a potent global-warming gas and is accompanied by compounds that are extremely dangerous to our health.

As you may know by now, rules to cut methane waste from oil and gas facilities were implemented by the Obama Administration thanks to you, and they played a key part in our compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Then, despite support from a large majority of Americans from both parties and the participation of industry, experts and thousands of citizens, Trump’s EPA and BLM unilaterally delayed implementation of these rules.

In June, a federal court ordered the EPA to implement its rule, and in October a court ordered the BLM to do the same.

This happened, though, on the very same day in October that the BLM initiated a formal administrative process to delay the rule for 18 months. The EPA had already done something similar, and we are waiting for them to formalize a two-year stay of that rule.

What’s with all the stays?  The agencies stalled with short-term stays (found illegal) while they worked on the formal process for longer-term stays.

So here we go again. Even though the Senate’s failure to permanently revoke the BLM safeguards failed in May — one of the first legislative victories over the Trump administration — and even though the courts have said that the rules are legitimate, the agencies are plowing ahead, doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry and allowing companies to waste a natural resource that belongs to all of us.

Here’s where your latest action comes in. The BLM is taking comments on its proposed 18-month stay of its methane rule. The agency is not holding a single public hearing, even though five were held in the original rulemaking process, and is allowing the public only 30 days to submit comments. The deadline is Nov. 6. Go to this website for details on how to submit your comment.

Finally, to understand how serious the impact is for communities and especially kids, please check out the Oil and Gas Threat Map, which not only shows every well in our state, but schools within a half-mile radius of these operations.

In New Mexico, that includes 32,009 students going to 99 schools & day cares, 138,399 residents, and 12 medical facilities in San Juan County alone 98,727 people, 28,161 of whom are school-aged children.

To see it, go to oilandgasthreatmap.com.

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