Deadline nears for Senate to overturn BLM methane rule

Gardner still mum about his stance

Sen. Cory Gardner

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado continues to be lobbied on both sides as the Senate faces a deadline to act this week if it wants to overturn a new Bureau of Land Management rule regulating methane emissions from oil and gas development.

The Republican continues to remain mum about which way he is leaning on the issue amid expectations that the Senate will vote on it this week. If it doesn’t, time will run out for it to repeal the rule using the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress roll back recently passed rules. The U.S. House already has voted to rescind the methane rule, with U.S Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., voting in the majority on that resolution.

The BLM rule was finalized by the Obama administration to update regulations on venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas, with the goal of cutting waste of public resources, reducing pollution and providing a fair return for taxpayers. The action followed Colorado’s adoption in 2014 of the first rules in the nation directly targeting methane emissions from regulating oil and gas development.

“It would be a huge step backward if the Senate repealed the BLM’s methane rule,” U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., told reporters Monday in a conference call.

She said leaving the rule in place would preserve a valuable natural resource and public health. “Or we can go back to more pollution and more waste,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., opposes the rule’s rollback.

During an interview with The Daily Sentinel last week, Gardner continued to decline to indicate where he might stand on repealing the rule.

“Obviously we continue to hear from both the supporters and opponents of the rule, and we want to hear from everybody as this measure may or may not come up for consideration.

“We continue to talk to people on both sides on this. There’s a lot of interest, obviously,” he said. “Colorado has its own rule in place and we want to understand how (the BLM rule) works with Colorado’s rule, and that’s why we continue to take a look at it.”

Kristin Winn from Citizens for Clean Air in Grand Junction said Monday in a prepared statement, “Methane and ozone-causing natural gas pollution doesn’t recognize state borders. Coloradans have already felt the impact of under-regulated oil and gas operations in neighboring states. We need Senator Gardner to support keeping this rule in place to clean up this waste and pollution.”

The Western Colorado Congress citizens group is among those also urging Gardner to support the rule. A number of industry groups oppose the rule, saying compliance costs could cut production, resulting in an overall drop in royalty revenues despite what increased revenues would result from cutting methane emissions.


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