During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to listen to "forgotten America", the folks who live and work in America's heartland. So far, the Trump Administration listens more to big donors and their fossil fuel friends that poured money into his campaign than the the people he promised to protect. President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke have a new opportunity to listen to Americans instead of lobbyists, but will they?
The Interior Department is currently reviewing comments on its proposed plan to dismantle a standard that would limit methane leaks and flaring from petroleum and natural gas wells on Federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In the past few weeks that open comments have been accepted, almost 45,000 pro-life Christians submitted 10% of the total comments received, all of them telling Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration to preserve the rule.
The First Amendment grants every citizen the right to petition their government for "a redress of grievances", and we're grieved that the Trump Administration would put the self-interests of big donors and his golf buddies before the health of our children, both unborn and born.
We know two things about this critical standard: it protects public health and it saves taxpayer money. The venting and flaring process allows natural gas to escape into our air which not only impacts air quality but costs us at least $100 million per year in lost public royalties according to the Taxpayers for Common Sense. Eliminating this standard will waste $100 million which could fund projects such as medical clinics for Americans already suffering from the pollution of our air and water.
Medical studies have shown that smog, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and air toxins (all of which are a result of natural gas venting and flaring) have a disproportionate impact on life in the womb. For those living near production sites, the emissions have been linked to birth defects, preterm births, and low birth-weight babies, the latter of which are at greater risk of infant mortality, ADHD, and asthma among other serious health impacts. More broadly, 84 percent of published medical studies describe negative health impacts from natural gas infrastructure. Our children deserve far better than rampant pollution that impacts their right to an abundant life, all for the sake of industry profits.
President Trump and Secretary Zinke's weakening of the BLM methane standard will also cost jobs and delay the implementation of exciting new technologies. There are already 500 companies that develop, manufacture, and sell methane-control technologies in the United States today. Putting people to work and creating new technologies is a much better deal for American workers than the over $1 billion worth of methane that would be wasted this decade if this standard is weakened.
Failure to limit methane would be an affront to our values, a disaster for public health, and an economic mistake. Pro-life Christians have spoken, and we will will continue to use our Biblical ethics and our First Amendment rights as Americans to petition our government in defense of our children. President Trump: keep your promise to care for all Americans and uphold the BLM Methane and Waste Prevention Rule.