When it comes to American energy, waste not, want not

By Darin Carei

Small business owners can’t afford to be wasteful. Down to the last hour in the day and the last dollar spent, our resources must go toward innovating in our field, investing in our businesses, paying employees, and improving our communities. Nothing wasted.

That’s particularly true when it comes to our energy resources. Yet, our US Senator Cory Gardner is having a hard time keeping that in mind as he considers voting to rollback the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule, which curbs waste from natural gas drilling on public lands. This commonsense rule, which is now under threat, cuts down on cross-state air pollution and makes taxpayers millions of dollars of royalties, right now, are going up in smoke.

Each year, extraction companies waste $330 million worth of taxpayer-owned natural gas through venting, flaring, and leaks. In Colorado and Utah alone, extraction companies have wasted more than $54 million worth of natural gas which, because it’s coming from public lands, belongs to the American people. The royalties from the sale of that natural gas belongs to us and our communities. That money from our public resource goes to fund roads, bridges, and public schools across the Western Slope. Between 2009 and 2015, methane wasted on federal and tribal lands could have provided electricity to six million American households for a year.

None of this makes sense from a business perspective. As a business owner in Grand Junction, this level of waste is appalling and unreasonable. The government exists to meet the responsibilities bestowed upon it by the constitution. It does not exist, in contrast, to solely benefit major corporations at the expense of our public schools, air quality, and taxpayer dollars.

That’s why Congress’s plan to repeal the methane waste rule is so foolhardy. But it gets worse. Congress is threatening to use a reckless and blunt tool, the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to force through the repeal – an action that not only would undo the methane waste rule, but also prevent any federal agency from producing a “substantially similar” rule ever again.

The Senate expects to vote soon. If they’re successful, Congress would turn back the clock on methane waste for years to come.

As a business owner, the economic impact of that alarms me. As a citizen, the environmental impact scares me. While Colorado has it’s own methane regulations, pollution from Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming are major threats to our air quality and public health. Methane and other toxic air pollutants in our air will increase, no doubt.

Coloradans cannot allow this rollback happen. Let’s all commit to take action to hold our elected leaders accountable on this issue. Ask Senator Gardner to not give away something that is ours for nothing. Make sure and voice a ‘Vote no’ on the congressional review act vote to roll back the BLM’s methane waste rule. The window for the CRA is closing in early May, shortly after this recess, I hope Senator Gardner spends some time while he’s back here in Colorado over the next few weeks listening to people about this issue.

Darin Carei owns Senergy Builders, Atlasta Solar and Graff Dairy in Grand Junction.


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