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Wasting Away Wyoming’s Natural Gas Resources and Future Economy

Greetings WAC Community,

The Wyoming Association of Churches recently joined faith groups across the West in calling on oil and gas industry groups to drop their opposition to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed natural gas waste rule. The rule is intended to reduce the waste of natural gas from flaring, venting and leaks from oil and gas production operations on public and tribal lands. The rules, phased in over several years, would help curb waste of our nation’s natural gas supplies, reduce harmful air pollution (including greenhouse gases), and provide a fair return on public resources for taxpayers, Tribes and states. The Association believes it is our duty as stewards of God’s creation to protect and conserve the environment that sustains our lives. It is our duty to do everything we can to be good shepherds for the earth.

Wyoming is blessed with abundant natural resources. These resources provide jobs for Wyoming citizens and revenue for schools, communities and other state funded programs. As we are all aware, Wyoming is facing a financial crisis as revenue from natural resources has drastically declined. The Department of Health, which administers dozens of health-related programs, primarily aimed at the poor and working poor, sustained a $90 million cut.  This crisis has also caused a drop in school funding, a cut in social services funding for communities and reductions in important social services programs for families. This disproportionally affects the more fiscally challenged citizens of Wyoming.

Wyoming is struggling to develop solutions to our budget challenges. This is particularly difficult as needless waste is allowed to occur in the form of leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas resources. According to ICF International ( a national firm of business analysts, public policy experts, researchers, data strategists and social scientists), $42.5 million worth of natural gas is wasted every year in Wyoming through flaring, venting and leaks by oil and gas operations on Wyoming’s public lands. The lost royalties should go to schools, communities, and state services programs.

We have a moral responsibility to reduce waste occurring on public lands. In doing so, we protect our citizens from air pollution and prevent non-renewable resources from being lost into the environment. Waste causes unnecessary environmental degradation and adds to the problems associated with climate change.  There is no one solution to Wyoming’s budgetary challenges but we can and should start by reducing the needless waste of our natural gas resources.

Without a focus on a clean environment and a curbing of air pollution, Wyoming will struggle to continue to offer the citizens of Wyoming and the visitors to our state the type of outdoor experience that is vital to our citizens and our tourism industry. The reduction in funding for our school systems will lead to a reduction in the quality of education provided to the youth of Wyoming, and have a detrimental effect on the types and qualities of public education Wyoming is noted for.

To ensure resources are not wasted, the Wyoming Association of Churches would ask the State of Wyoming to address leaks, venting, and flaring statewide. We encourage the Environmental Quality Council to adopt the new EPA methane rules. In our state, rules are already in place addressing leaks, venting  and flaring in the Upper Green River Basin. The technology to curb natural gas waste emissions exists, is available now, and is proven to be successful and cost effective! There is no reason not to implement and enforce these sensible standards throughout the entire state of Wyoming. This will ensure Wyoming is doing all it can to protect our environment and reduce the loss of valuable resources. Public health and environmental protection should always be a priority and in these difficult financial times no amount of waste should be acceptable.

The Wyoming Association of Churches believes it is our moral responsibility and duty to wisely protect and, yes, utilize the gifts of God’s creation for the benefit of all God’s creatures. The Association encourages the oil and gas industry to continue their good progress already in evidence. We need to secure our environment’s health for our children, our grandchildren, and their children, on into the foreseeable future. Wyoming simply cannot afford to continue to waste our public natural resources when so much good can come from responsible stewardship of our planet!

Fear Not!   Be Bold!   Do justice!

Carl R. Carmichael

Chairman of the Board

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