There are many parts, but one body. – I Corinthians 12:20
According to ICF International, a reputable research organization, $330 million worth of natural gas is wasted annually through flaring, venting and leaks by gas and oil operations on public and tribal lands. $42.5 million of that is right here in Wyoming!
This past week in cooperation with Creation Justice Ministries, the Wyoming Association of Churches and other western Christian organizations requested the oil and gas interest groups to stop their opposition to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s natural gas waste rule. “We have a moral responsibility to cut methane emissions and reduce natural gas waste from oil and gas operations on our public lands,” said Shantha Alonso, executive director of Creation Justice Ministries.
The waste means lost federal royalty revenues that could be returned to Wyoming for our public schools, community colleges and university. Wyoming is getting short-changed by the flaring, venting and leaks. The waste means fewer revenues at a time we need it most, given the severe state budget cuts in Wyoming and with more being threatened.
Cutting the wasted emissions is possible. Colorado did it through air quality rules that tackled the problem, thereby reducing both the waste and the pollution. Seven out of ten oil and gas industry-related companies surveyed in Colorado found that the benefits of the methane rules outweighed the costs. Unfortunately, Wyoming has not followed suit yet and lags behind in implementing needed solutions to cut methane leaks.
Wyoming showed it was possible when Jonah Energy, one of the largest operators in the Upper Green River Basin, cut leaks by 75% and at the same time was able to cover the costs of labor and materials and bring more natural gas to market. Sublette County residents had been suffering air quality problems comparable to Los Angeles some days. This was a win-win for everyone.
We know about solutions that will work and that are cost-effective. As stewards of God’s creation, we have the responsibility to act. It requires industry to cooperate. They are a part of the body that I Corinthians 12:20 references because their actions are connected with our well-being.
The Bureau of Land Management has taken a sensible approach through their natural gas waste rule. The sooner the rule is finalized, the better. And Wyoming needs to take stock of its own house as well.
What you can do:
Ask gas and oil industry leaders to support the BLM waste rule, not to oppose it. Self-regulation doesn’t always work if that’s their response. That’s why we have speed limits.
Ask Wyoming legislators (and candidates) and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to improve our air quality rules as Colorado has done.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.