Christian Leaders Seek Response from Department of Interior Regarding Rollback of Bureau of Land Management Methane Rule
At the close of the Department of Interior Comment Period for the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste (BLM) Prevention rule, it was abundantly clear that the vast majority of commenters wish to uphold or strengthen the rule. It was also clear several religious leaders took issue with the lack of public notification and hearings about this proposed rollback to the rule, which had originally been crafted after three years of stakeholder meetings, public hearings, and comment collection.
In spite of the short comment period and zero public hearings, people of faith manifested their discontent with the proposed rollback in many ways – from the hundreds of faith leaders who signed and hand delivered a letter organized by Interfaith Power and Light, to eleven religious organizations, to top leaders of Historically Black Church communities, and numerous other individuals and organizations.
Peter Severson, leader of the creation care team of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) noted:
…we participated in the rule-making process in 2016 by sending people to testify at public hearings in favorof this much-needed rule. So far, there have been no public hearings about the rescinding of the rule. We request an explanation of why the Department of Interior made this decision.
Pastors James and Kimberly Therrien of Lybrook Community Ministries in Counselor, New Mexico said of the process for the proposed rollback:
Venting and flaring, as well as methane leaks, disproportionately endanger our community... We have not heard any announcements about this proposed rollback in our news channels. Nothing has run on the Navajo radio station, even though the Navajo Nation endorsed the Methane Waste Prevention Rule when it was created. It is wrong that our community had not chance to voice our concerns in hearings, and we urge your department to give us the chance.
Dr. D. Edward Chaney, pastor of the largest Historically Black Church in Nevada, Second Baptist Church in Las Vegas, shared his view:
Rolling back the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Prevention Rule will harm Nevadans and African-Americans specifically. It is an unseen threat deliberately designed to go unnoticed with no public hearings.
Recent polling shows more than three out of four people support the rule, and an analysis of public comments conducted by the Center for Western priorities found that 99 percent of public comments were in favor of upholding or strengthening the rule, rather than rolling it back. One week after the close of the comment period, faith community leaders are still seeking a response from the Department of Interior about the lack of hearings.
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
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This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.