WASHINGTON, D.C. September 11, 2018 -Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement following the announcement from the Trump administration that it will seek to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule to limit the waste of methane from new oil and gas wells.
"By gutting the EPA's methane rule, the Trump administration is taking a major step backward for protecting public health, responsibly developing our natural gas resources, and meeting our responsibility to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
"I fought alongside a bipartisan group of senators last year to successfully vote down an effort to repeal common-sense rules from the Bureau of Land Management that were put in place to prevent methane waste. Reducing methane leaks means that instead of having a giant methane cloud over the northwest corner of New Mexico and over the Navajo Nation-a major public health hazard-we can put our natural gas resources to beneficial use. When oil and gas companies modernize their equipment to reduce leaks, they are able to capture more gas that they can sell, as well as increase worker safety at their wells. When we capture more gas that also means we see more royalties and revenues for states, tribes, and local communities.
"These watered down rules fly in the face of logic, science, and responsible decision-making."
The EPA's new weakened methane rule comes before another anticipated move by the Trump administration to replace the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) methane waste reduction rule for oil and gas operations on federal public lands that the Senate voted to retain last year.
In New Mexico alone, over $100 million in taxpayer-owned natural gas is wasted each year from federal public lands. Four years ago, satellite images from NASA revealed that a giant cloud of methane-about the size of Delaware-is sitting over the Four Corners region in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado.