April 30, 2018

Conservatives: Methane rollback not aligned with conservative values

Laura Paskus

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship has launched a media blitz arguing the Trump administration’s plan to roll back a waste-prevention rule on methane is not consistent with conservative principles.

The Obama-era rule was designed to prevent energy waste, ensure a fair return on royalties, and improve air quality. It was set to take effect earlier this year, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it was a burden on the industry and called for it to be eliminated.

David Jenkins is president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship. He said he wants New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce to stop supporting the rollback.

“You know, I’m a conservative, our organization is an organization of conservatives, and we’re of the opinion that waste is not conservative,” Jenkins said. “Common sense standards being put in place to prevent waste and to save taxpayers money, that’s a conservative thing to do.”

Jenkins’ group has placed multiple newspaper, radio and online ads to support the methane rule. A conservation group that monitored the comment period on the proposed rollback said 99 percent of the half-million people who weighed in were opposed.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and reports show that harmful emissions from oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands is worse in New Mexico than any other state. Jenkins argued that restricting emissions should not be a political issue.

“Their knee-jerk reaction to push for a rollback, in our view, is just special interest politics,” he said. “And it has nothing to do with thinking about what’s best for New Mexico residents going forward.”

The Department of the Interior reported that in 2014, oil and gas companies wasted enough gas to supply 1.5 million households for a year.

Jenkins said in New Mexico alone, the industry is estimated to waste more than $100 million worth of natural gas annually.

“What it comes down to are people not willing to go that little extra step to do something right,” Jenkins said. “They want to do the easiest thing and the most quick thing to get them profit with the least amount of effort.”

Colorado already requires oil and gas companies to install equipment to capture excess gas.