The Evangelical Environmental Network thanks the BLM for the release of the BLM Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Standard. This rule is a good first step but needs to go further. For far too long, the industry has failed to be good stewards as our faith requires, and action is needed. As the 18th Century evangelist John Wesley stated:
“We are now God’s stewards. We are indebted to him for all we have… A steward is not at liberty to use what is lodged in his hands as he pleases, but as his master pleases… He is not the owner of any of these things but barely entrusted with them by another… now this is exactly the case of everyone with relation to God. We are not at liberty to use what God has lodged in our hands as we please, but as God pleases.”
Since the gas industry began, it has failed to steward God’s resources well. It has carelessly wasted away natural gas through routine venting and flaring. If captured and used, this gas could instead meet domestic energy needs, generating more revenue for taxpayers, private landowners, and local communities through increased royalties. As of 2019, approximately 150 billion cubic feet of methane (about $400 million worth of natural gas) has been wastefully flared on federal and tribal lands alone. If put to use, this natural gas could have provided energy to 2.1 million households – nearly all of the households in New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming combined. Additionally, federal royalties on this wasted gas would have yielded more than $50 million to taxpayers, with approximately 50% of these royalty payments returned to states and tribes to fund local communities, schools and education, health care, and critical infrastructure.
These reckless industry practices also threaten the health of our most precious resource: our children. Venting and flaring of natural gas spews dangerous levels of soot (PM2.5) and other life-threatening toxics into communities near gas production sites. Breathing air polluted with PM2.5 has been associated with preterm birth, cardio-pulmonary diseases, dementia, and even death. It is past time to ban all flaring and routine venting in order to be good stewards of our national resources and to defend our kids’ health.
The cost benefits and even revenue opportunities of the industry ending these wasteful practices are immense. As we study the newly released proposal, we pray BLM will follow the lead of several pioneering western states and propose tangible benefits to end routine flaring and venting. If not, EEN will work to strengthen the rule to end these reckless practices and advance the additional benefit of defending the health of God’s most vulnerable children.
Submit your comment to the BLM in support of stronger methane standards here!