It’s clear the previous administration played favorites by putting the American people over profits – for some bizarre reason the interests of taxpayers and the climate were prioritized over growing the oil and gas industry’s $1.7 trillion in profits. Thankfully, the tide has turned and a new day has dawned – one that ignores public concerns and gives free reign to oil and gas companies to drill across our precious landscapes, all while wasting valuable natural resources.
The Obama-era Methane Waste-Prevention Rule posed outrageous burdens on oil and gas companies developing on public lands to implement proven, low-cost technology solutions to capture their methane emissions. Even though BLM verified these regulations would save taxpayers more than $1 billion by recovering publicly owned natural gas, the $172 million industry compliance costs are far, far too steep, especially for companies only making $93 billion per year. And sure, oil and gas companies have already wasted almost $2 billion of public resources while continuing to degrade air quality and pollute carbon, but really, who actually cares?
Yes, one could pretend to care what impacted stakeholders and tribes think about methane waste – holding public hearings and listening sessions across the country over a multi-year planning period, as the last administration did – but why waste everyone’s time? With the ear of President Trump and Secretary Zinke, it doesn’t matter that 330,000 public comments were collected in forming the 2016 Rule, nor that polling found a strong majority of Westerners – where companies use public lands to make a profit – supported common-sense measures to prevent flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas on public lands.
The current administration sees through this nonsense – rescinding all restrictions that hampered profits out of an alleged duty to public interests. Oil and gas executives have rightfully been granted private meetings with key decision makers while requests from stakeholders consulted in the 2016 Rule have been denied (boo-hoo!). The administration has also thoughtfully eliminated regulations requiring public hearings, and though they haven’t quite done away with the pesky comment period yet, if the last year is any sign, industry feels confident the hundreds of thousands of comments recently collected from concerned citizens will be ignored to push forward a pro-exploitation and pollution rule.