May 10, 2017

Udall: Senate Rejects Repeal of Commonsense Natural Gas Waste Prevention Rule

Vote is victory for taxpayers, school children and the environment

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement after the Senate voted 49-51, defeating a measure to repeal the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) natural gas waste prevention rule through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Udall helped lead the fight against the repeal.

"This is a victory for taxpayers and school children in New Mexico — because we were able to fend off this dangerous repeal, New Mexico will continue to benefit from the BLM's commonsense steps to prevent the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas, create jobs and shrink the methane hotspot hanging over the Four Corners region. This also is a victory for the fierce opponents of our out-of-control campaign finance system, which has allowed powerful industries like big oil and gas to wield enormous political power to pad its bottom line at the expense of Americans' health and our climate. I want to thank all of the advocates in New Mexico and across the country who fought this repeal for many months.

"We are definitively better off with this rule in place, which enables producers to use simple inexpensive solutions to prevent waste and save resources. Until the BLM's rule was implemented late last year, $100 million in taxpayer-owned natural gas was lost each year from oil and gas wells operating on federal public lands in New Mexico. That is money that our cash-strapped state desperately needs to help balance the budget, pay for text books and other educational materials for our students. By leaving this rule in place, we have a chance at recouping lost revenue to help balance the budget, create jobs and reduce the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases and associated pollution being released into the air from leaking equipment and through venting and flaring.

“New Mexico is home to significant oil and gas production, which is a source of good jobs and critical revenue for our state government and school system. But the industry arguments against this rule did not hold water -- since the rule came into effect in November 2016, the industry has added approximately 2,700 jobs nationwide and the number of drilling rigs in operation has increased over 50 percent. The economic health of this highly profitable industry is driven primarily by the price of oil and gas -- we certainly can afford reasonable, commonsense regulations to prevent waste and pollution.

"Make no mistake, the Trump administration will keep trying through other means to reverse these protections. But I will keep up the fight for New Mexico taxpayers, jobs and clean air and water."