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Letter: Vote "no" on Methane and Waste Prevention Rule repeal

In November 2016, the Bureau of Land Management finalized the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule to replace outdated regulations that reduce flaring, venting and unnecessary leaking of methane and other harmful pollutants into the air on public and tribal lands.

Every year the oil and gas industry releases millions of tons of methane into the air. Between 2009 and 2014, oil and gas producers on public and tribal lands vented, flared, and leaked about 375 billion cubic feet of natural gas. That's enough to supply over 5 million homes for one year.

Why should this matter? Because our state and tribal tax dollars are being burned or vented into the atmosphere. In North Dakota, oil development has overwhelmingly outpaced gas capture due to lack of infrastructure, a major oversight that has left reservations and public lands open to unnecessary flaring; and the oil industry has been given a free pass to willfully waste a valuable, finite resource.

The BLM's rule would curb the intentional release of methane into the atmosphere and ensure that royalties are paid to fuel our state's economy as well as ensure cleaner air quality. Under a rarely used measure called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), our Congressional Delegation will soon vote on a proposal to repeal the BLM's rule. The CRA will also destroy the ability of any similar legislation to be brought forth.

North Dakotans are proud of our common sensibility and willingness to preserve our state legacy. We need our senators in Washington to act practically and ensure that air quality is improved and royalties are returned to our communities.

Sens. Heitkamp and Hoeven: vote "no" on the repeal.