LETTER: DeGette’s methane waste bill burns through the facts

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EDITOR: Regina Thompson’s opinion of Representative Diana DeGette’s Methane Waste Prevention Act doesn’t stand up to the facts.

Thompson thinks the bill will create red tape and force energy firms to close, but the legislation simply reinstates, enhances and protects two 2016 rules that the Obama administration had put in place, and which the Trump administration rolled back in 2018.

The U.S. fracking industry is producing so much methane that it simply burns it off. The New York Times’ recent report, on immense amounts of methane escaping from oil and gas sites nationwide, states, “By the E.P.A.’s own calculations, the rollback would increase methane emissions by 370,000 tons through 2025, enough to power more than a million homes for a year.”

Thompson thinks tighter regulations will lead to the U.S. importing methane, but the U.S. has an over abundance of methane that’s being flared or released, not captured. Frackers on the Front Range are after oil, not gas, and methane prices have gone negative multiple times in 2019. The volume [of methane] flared in Texas by the end of 2018 was greater than residential gas demand in the entire state.**

In addition, Colorado has one of the lowest severance taxes on oil and gas in the nation, effectively around 1%. The cost of doing business in Colorado is low and asking them not to release methane into the atmosphere isn’t asking much. In fact, taxpayers will probably be stuck with an enormous bill as many oil and gas companies are going bankrupt and leaving their mess for states and local governments to clean up. They’ve borrowed heavily for years, not made a profit and are unable to pay off massive debts. An estimate from the Wall Street Journal in 2017 found the oil and gas industry had $280 billion in negative cash flow between 2010 and 2017.

Fracking’s financial hardships are tied to the volatile world market and the fact that they have not made a profit from fracking, not common sense regulations. And after all, shouldn’t part of the cost of doing business be not to destroy the earth’s life support systems? Remember, there are no jobs on a dead planet, or alternatives to a stable climate, but there are economical alternatives to oil and gas.

— Sandra Toland via [email protected]