Right now, oil and natural gas industry operations waste and pollute with excess methane by leaking, venting, and flaring it. In the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have taken action to ensure oil and gas industry operations plug methane leaks, and stop the wasteful practice of venting and flaring. The BLM proposed rule is of particular interest to local taxpayers, because oil and gas profits made on BLM public lands contribute to the local common good. (For example, school funding.) In the long run, stopping waste means the profits the companies make and the taxes the communities collect will increase. A moral principle to live by: waste not, want not.
Just this week, NASA released a report that further reinforced the importance of these methane waste and pollution reduction standards. The NASA report showed natural gas waste and methane pollution burden oil and gas operations in the San Juan Basin, and the surrounding communities. Oil and gas operations contribute to the dangerous methane cloud hovering over the Four Corners. NASA found over 250 methane pollution sources across the San Juan Basin. The study revealed leaking storage tanks and pipeline leaks associated with the oil and gas industry are a major problem, but only 10 percent of the sources studied were responsible for more than half the methane pollution NASA found in the San Juan Basin. How can we find these few devastating leaks without regulation? Without comprehensive leak detection inspections, we can’t predict when and where these leaks will occur. Only clear standards that apply to all industry operators can make that happen.
On the heels of the release of this NASA report, a major player in the public dialogue on energy ethics, the Western Energy Alliance, is convening major oil and gas industry leaders at a national conference. Change is never easy, and it is hard to predict how industry leaders may react to these new EPA standards, the forthcoming BLM standards, and the mounting evidence of the moral imperative to cut methane waste and pollution. On the occasion of oil and gas industry decision-makers' meeting in Vail, Colorado in August 2016, we pray they will share a moral vision for methane stewardship. It is our hope and prayer that industry leaders will see regulations as creating a level playing field that helps everyone better care for the local community's health and wealth.
For such a time as this, we need moral, cautious, forward-thinking leadership from the energy industry. And, we need a lot of prayer for our leaders and decision-makers. Please join us in our effort to pray for oil and gas industry decision-makers, including this week as they meet at the Western Energy Alliance gathering.
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Creator God, we thank and praise you for all the gifts of the Earth that help us heat our homes, travel, cook our meals, and more. The Earth and all that is in it belongs to you, God. We are humbled and grateful that you have entrusted us as caretakers of your creation, and have called us to love our neighbors as ourselves, caring for their health and well-being.
As oil and gas industry leaders convene in Vail, Colorado, we pray for your blessing on their meeting. We pray for moral decision-making among all who have been charged with the great responsibility of meeting our communities' energy needs.
May the words of their mouths and meditations of their hearts center around responsible stewardship of all gifts of the Earth, including methane. God, you have created abundance, and we remember the adage of our ancestors: Waste not, want not.
We pray for strong commitment to the health and well-being of workers and communities living near oil and gas operations.
We pray for a concern for justice and care for your whole good creation, God, planet and people.