The Moral Case To Curb Methane Waste And Pollution

Religious communities are actively engaged in many activities to care for and do justice for God’s creation. One of the less-known efforts has been a sustained push by many religious leaders to cut methane waste and pollution. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is dangerous for our climate. It is the primary component of natural gas, and right now, too many oil and gas companies allow it to leak from their operations, or they choose to vent and flare the excess energy that could be used to heat local homes. 

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.

Last week, more than 25 faith community leaders and socially responsible investment firms joined together in a letter to oil and gas lobby groups calling on them to drop their opposition to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's natural gas waste rule and join our communities in supporting it. The Executive Directors of the Wyoming Association of Churches, the Colorado Council of Churches, and New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light also took the time to explain why this initiative was important to them on a recorded teleconference.

The letter was sent to the Western Energy Alliance, the Consumer Energy Alliance, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, the Colorado Petroleum Council, and the La Plata Energy Council. We are releasing the letter on the heels of a NASA report on methane pollution and the Western Energy Alliance conference.

We have a moral responsibility to cut methane emissions and reduce natural gas waste and pollution from oil and gas operations, and religious communities will keep going until the job gets done.

Shantha Alonso is the Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries in Washington, DC and a Blessed Tomorrow Leader.

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