Communities Vow to Protect the Common Good, Taxpayers, Public Health, and Climate
Christian faith leaders traveled to Capitol Hill to urge their US Senators and Representatives to defend the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Natural Gas Waste Reduction Rule.
The BLM rule requires oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands to plug methane leaks. Each year, millions of dollars’ worth of methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, is wasted. The rule underwent significant stakeholder engagement processes, and religious communities participated with support statements and sign-on letters to decision-makers and trade associations. These letters noted that taxpayers lose out on more than $330 million worth of methane each year as a result of wasteful leaking, venting, and flaring from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal land. These religious organizations also expressed gratitude when the rule was released.
Deacon Mike Margerum of Sparks, Nevada condemned the possibility of the BLM rule being rolled back through the Congressional Review Act: “In an ideologically-driven effort to end all regulations, this common-sense rule is in danger of being undermined.”
Sarah King of the Arizona Faith Network visited with Senator Flake, staff of Senator McCain, and Rep. O’Halleran. She said of the BLM rule, “This rule will have a positive economic impact on Western communities, and particularly our Navajo brothers and sisters. To get rid of it would be foolish, and poor stewardship.”
President of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina Rev. Dr. James Blassingame visited with staff from Senator Graham and Senator Scott’s offices and addressed a forum of the House Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee. His moral message was: “Our most basic Christian call, starting in the book of Genesis, is to till and keep the Earth. This means we must responsibly steward Earth’s resources as well as the wealth they generate. We have a moral call to prevent waste and fairly share the gifts of God’s creation.”
While the rule is intended to cut waste of natural gas and ensure a fair return for taxpayers, Chrsitian communities are also deeply concerned about the health impacts.
For Rev. Charles Maynard, District Superintendent of Maryville, Tennessee for the United Methodist Church, who met with staff of Senators Corker and Alexander as well as Rep. Duncan and Rep Roe, the connection between air quality and health is a primary concern. “Air doesn’t respect state lines. The whole creation is without boundaries. We have to deal with this nationally, not state by state. People in Tennessee understand this especially impacts the health of our Western brothers and sisters, particularly the most vulnerable.”