Signers included national religious leaders as well as leaders of the West and Southwest, including the Directors of the Wyoming Association of Churches, Colorado Council of Churches, and New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light – all organizations that have been extremely active on the issue.
The letter lifts up faith communities’ shared faith principle of stewardship: “As people of faith, we believe in good stewardship of all the gifts of God’s creation. We consider it part of practicing our faith to counteract wasteful attitudes and behaviors, which Pope Francis call ‘throwaway culture’.”
Since the Bureau of Land Management first announced their effort to cut methane waste, religious communities have championed the cause. Religious leaders highlighted in their letter their collective reaction to learning about the issue: “As our communities learned of the methane waste problem, we found it shocking how much leaked, vented, and flared natural gas is lost from oil and gas operations.” Annually, oil and gas operations in the United States waste enough methane to power the entire state of Wyoming for a year.
When methane leaks from oil and gas operations on public land, a useful gift of God’s creation instead becomes a burden to communities. The religious leaders spoke of this burden in their letter: “Many states count on revenue from these operations to fund projects that care for the common good, including schools and roads. Yet, oil and gas companies allow methane, a finite gift of God’s creation, to waft into the air. This not only pollutes our air, but it also endangers our health and harms our climate. It also sends millions of dollars in potential earnings for the companies and tax revenue for our communities up in smoke.”
As the Methane Waste Rule proceeds from finalization to implementation, religious leaders will continue to monitor its effectiveness, and continue to advocate for cutting methane waste.
Creation Justice Ministries represents the creation care policies of 38 Christian communions, including Baptists, mainline Protestants, Historically Black Churches, Peace Churches, and Orthodox communions. Learn more at www.creationjustice.org
Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso said, “This is a common sense move that will benefit everyone’s bottom line. We are grateful the Administration followed through and got it done. We call on oil and gas companies to embrace the Methane Waste Standard as an opportunity for better stewardship of methane, which is a finite gift of God’s creation.”
Wyoming Association of Churches Executive Director Chesie Lee said, "We thank the BLM for this rule to discourage waste of a precious resource of God's creation while potentially bringing us more revenue for our schools. At a time when we are facing severe cuts due to a decline of existing revenues available for the State of Wyoming, children can benefit from this improvement in resource stewardship.”
Colorado Council of Churches Executive Director Adrian Miller commented, “As people of faith concerned about being good stewards of the earth, we thank President Obama and his administration for their leadership on improving regulations that will help reduce methane waste.”
Sister Joan Brown, osf, the Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, commented, "People of faith in New Mexico are grateful for the new BLM methane rules addressing pollution and waste. This is an important step in reducing the large methane cloud in our Four Corners region that will protect the health of those who are most vulnerable. Our schools and the children will benefit from more funds into our state budget from royalties. New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light is grateful for the leadership of this rule that cares for God's creation and our communities."