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Vote Could Overturn BLM's Methane Waste Rule

Deer and antelope mingle in the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field.
Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile
Deer and antelope mingle in the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field.

This winter, the Upper Green River Basin has experienced seven high ozone days when the young and elderly are discouraged from spending time outdoors. Elaine Crumpley, the founder of CURED or Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development, said the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule would eventually help reduce that problem of air pollution in her community.

“We have a ski area in winter and we do snowshoeing and cross country skiing. We’re an outdoor community. And they noticed, you know, it’s harder to breathe, they had bloody noses, they had itchy eyes on those high days.”

Congress is scheduled to vote on whether to overturn the rule that requires oil and gas companies to capture their methane waste rather than venting or flaring it.

Crumpley said she hopes lawmakers don't resort to using the Congressional Review Act to kill it, a loophole that says rules like this one can be reversed within 60 days of adoption.

“It permanently stops an agency’s ability to put anything forward that’s similar in regulations,” said Crumpley. “So it stops any future addressing of those kinds of problems. So it’s kind of like cutting butter with a chainsaw.”

Crumpley said energy companies could actually benefit from the rule, making about $23 million a year by capturing it and then selling it. She says it would also create jobs for leak detection and repair services.

But Wyoming’s U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso want to overturn the methane rule, saying it burdens energy companies with too much regulation.

Crumpley said she’ll present her perspective on the BLM rule at an ozone task force meeting with Governor Mead next week.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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