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United States : Leading Democrats Introduce Legislation to Cut Methane Pollution Bill Will Protect Health of Communities & Fight Climate Change

May 15, 2019 (Euclid Infotech Ltd via COMTEX) --

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) today introduced the Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2019, presenting a Democratic approach to reducing toxic and climate-warming emissions from oil and gas operations by restoring methane waste rules President Trump canceled and moved to weaken in September 2018. The bills original cosponsors include Natural Resources Committee Chair Ral M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujn (D-N.M.), Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.).

The bill requires the Department of Interior to reduce the waste of natural gas via venting, flaring, and leaks on public lands, and to establish more stringent requirements for reporting natural gas production and disposition volumes. The Obama administration found, when it established the rules Trump recently reversed, that venting of methane cost taxpayers more than $330 million a year in lost revenue from natural gas. The bill also codifies the Environmental Protection Agencys 2016 updates to its New Source Performance Standards that curb methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

As Reuters reported on Sept. 18, 2018:

Methane is a major force in short-term global warming because it has more than 80 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it escapes into the atmosphere, scientists say. The oil and gas business is the largest single source of the emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

An explanatory summary of DeGettes bill is available at https://bit.ly/2JmCZ9J. The full text of the legislation is available athttps://bit.ly/2VV8VYL.

Over the last decade, as U.S. oil and gas production has dramatically increased, so too have emissions of methane and other air pollutants from fossil fuel development. Methane flaring on public lands contributes to climate change, wastes a valuable public resource, and damages public health. Methane has approximately 25 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

In April, the House Natural Resources Committee held a field hearing in Santa Fe, N.M., to hear and see firsthand the health and environmental impacts of the Trump administrations decision to loosen methane pollution standards. New Mexicos methane emissions are the highest of any state in the country.

During the trip, lawmakers toured Chaco Culture National Historical Park to hear from tribal and elected leaders about the risks to the sacred site from nearby oil and gas drilling. A video highlighting lessons learned from that trip, including the severity of regional public health and air quality impacts, is available at http://bit.ly/30jWchi.

If were going to be serious about fixing the climate crisis, we have to be serious about curbing the release of methane into the atmosphere, DeGette said. We should be capturing and using this extremely valuable resource, not allowing the worst actors in the oil and gas industry to release it into the atmosphere where its going to harm future generations.

Last month my colleagues and I saw with our own eyes just how much poisonous methane oil and gas projects are spewing into New Mexicos air, and we agreed that enough is enough, Grijalva said. Fossil fuel companies are inflicting severe public health and environmental damage in the name of economic progress and lying about the consequences. Communities shouldnt have to accept higher risks of cancer and toxic exposure as the price of being employed in our economy. This bill is a necessary step in the process of restoring some balance to an out-of-control industry.

The consequences from unabated methane emissions in New Mexico harm my constituents health, our environment, and New Mexicos economy. In New Mexico alone, the flaring, venting, and leaking lead to the loss of $275 million worth of natural gas every year," Lujn said. "I am proud to support legislation that builds on the Obama Administrations EPA and BLM methane rules to drive down emissions while improving the measuring, reporting, and transparency requirements of oil and gas operations on public lands."

We all deserve to breathe clean air and to be free from the health effects that methane pollution can cause, Haaland said.However, when I toured drilling sites near Chaco Canyon, it was clear that many people in New Mexico are breathing in air poisoned by methane emissions released by oil and gas companies. Were taking a stand for our communities and demanding big companies put people over polluters while reducing the impact of our public lands on the climate.

Methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas that is harmful to our climate, environment, and public health, Lowenthal said.Hundreds of billions of tons of methane from public lands oil and gas development have been wasted just in the last decade. Methane emissions vented, flared, or leaked, is not only a harmful pollutant but is also a wasted natural energy source. We must limit methane emissions and increase the transparency around energy production to better account for the loss of this resource.

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