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Colorado conservation group slams Gardner vote on BLM methane rule

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May 10, 2017, 10:34 am
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A natural gas rig in Garfield County just west of Eagle County (David O. Williams photo).

Colorado’s conservation community cheered and energy-extraction groups condemned on Wednesday as the U.S. Senate voted 51-49 not to use the Congressional Review Act to rescind a U.S. Bureau of Land Management rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on BLM land.

The CRA vote was seen as a key test of the Trump administration’s ability to roll back Obama administration rules mitigating the impacts of fossil-fuel extraction on public lands. The federal rules was modeled after regulations already in place in Colorado.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, voted to rescind the BLM methane rule, while Democratic Colorado Sen. Bennet voted against the measure. Three Republicans joined every Senate Democrat in rejecting the measure.
Here are dueling press releases from both Conservation Colorado and the Western Energy Alliance:
Conservation Colorado Expresses Elation at Rejection of Methane Rule Repeal, Deep Disappointment With Senator Cory Gardner

In a huge win for the environment and the “resistance” against the Trump agenda, the vote to move forward with repealing a rule protecting air quality from oil and gas development just failed in the U.S. Senate. However, Colorado Senator Gardner voted the wrong way.

Here is a reaction from Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

This is an incredible day for the environment and for citizens across the country who have been telling their members of Congress to vote for clean air. The vote should have been an easy one for the oil and gas lobby to win, but the power of citizen activism has broken through the political morass.

With that said, we are deeply disappointed in Senator Gardner’s vote. Despite more than 10,000 emails and calls from Coloradans and multiple protests at his offices on this issue, Senator Gardner managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by voting against Colorado’s clean air in what amounted to a futile vote for him.

It’s obvious from this vote that Senator Gardner is much more interested in joining the Washington, D.C. political club rather than representing the values of Coloradans. This is not the leadership that Colorado needs, and we will double down on our efforts to make sure that Coloradans of all stripes know what a threat Senator Gardner’s voting record poses to clean air and environment.

Senate Republicans today attempted to use a little-known procedure (the “Congressional Review Act”) to kill rules from previous presidential administrations. Today’s vote on the “motion to proceed” was 51-49, with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ) joining all 48 Democrats in rejecting the resolution.

Senator Gardner has a 100% record of voting with Trump and has voted against the environment seven times already this year, the methane vote being the eighth.

The BLM’s methane waste prevention rule was modeled on Colorado’s successful 2014 methane rules. The federal rule was finalized in November 2016 after three years of public process that included eight public meetings held across the country and 300,000 public comments. The rule would minimize the amount of wasted natural gas resources from oil and gas facilities on public and tribal lands by requiring companies to look for and repair leaks, minimize flaring (burning) and prohibit venting of gas directly into the atmosphere. All told, the rule could save $330 million worth of natural gas each year, which would result in increased royalties paid to the federal treasury saving taxpayers more than $800 million over a decade.

Western Energy Alliance Disappointed the Senate Cannot Rein in Executive Branch Overreach

DENVER – Today, the Senate failed to even consider debating the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution overturning the unlawful Bureau of Land Management (BLM) venting and flaring rule. The rule is a vast overreach of Executive Branch authority, as BLM usurped EPA and state authority granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act.“Obviously, we’re disappointed the Senate didn’t even have the wherewithal to debate overturning the rule on the floor,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “The Senate has voted to deny taxpayers $110 million in revenue every year. Western Energy Alliance, IPAA and four states will continue to make the case in court that the rule is a vast overreach of BLM authority. The district court judge expressed grave doubts about BLM’s authority to regulate air quality, and we and the states will continue to press that point.

“We’ll also be working closely with the Department of the Interior on reviewing and rescinding this rule. BLM has the authority to regulate waste, but that’s not what it did in this rule. It imposed air quality controls that read almost verbatim from EPA rules. BLM has neither the authority nor expertise to regulate air quality, and we know that Secretary Zinke understands that fact. While we were hoping for a clean break through the CRA process, we will just roll up our sleeves and continue to work to overturn this rule.

“Thank you to Senator John Barrasso for all his hard work on this CRA resolution. Ultimately, it failed because three Republicans and an oil state Democrat were unwilling to constrain federal overreach. The oil and natural gas industry has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than any other, including wind and solar. That success, along with our long-term reduction in methane emissions by 21 percent was trumped by the environmental lobby’s misinformation about a rule that will continue to drive responsible energy production off federal lands.”

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Western Energy Alliance represents over 300 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. Alliance members are independents, the majority of which are small businesses with an average of fifteen employees. Learn more at www.WesternEnergyAlliance.org.

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