A Win for Wildlife: Protecting America’s Public Lands from Methane Pollution

On Wednesday, 51 Senators—all Democrats plus Republicans Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain—stood up for America’s outdoor heritage and wildlife by preventing the repeal of a Bureau of Land Management rule that prevents harmful methane from being released into the air as waste during oil and gas development on public lands. (See how your Senator voted, below.)  The rule applies to new and existing sources of methane on federal and tribal lands and it aims to reduce emissions by 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025. The comments and calls to Senators from members across the National Wildlife Federation family were key in preventing this important common sense regulation from being rolled back — so thank you and congratulations! This is a big win for wildlife!

Here are three reasons why preventing methane pollution is important:

Preventing methane pollution supports the outdoor economy

  • Methane pollution threatens America’s public lands, which are the foundation of America’s outdoor economy. Sportsmen and sportswomen, campers, birders, and hikers all depend upon our public lands and the abundant resources they offer.
  • Today, the outdoor recreation industry contributes $887 billion to our national economy annually, supports 7.6 million direct jobs, and generates $124.5 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

Methane pollution harms wildlife

  • Methane, a super pollutant, has 80 times the climate impacts of carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane escapes into the atmosphere as a climate pollutant in a variety of ways, but this rule aims to reduce a significant source by stopping waste from oil and gas wells on public lands. These wells leak, vent, and flare methane gas, rather than capturing it and selling it to heat homes and businesses.
  • As methane and other greenhouse gases increasingly alter our climate, habitats are shifting and wildlife are struggling to adapt. Rising temperatures, drought, and wildfires are worsening, placing communities and wildlife at risk. Streams and rivers are warming, and fish that depend on cool waters are struggling to survive.

Methane should be used, not wasted

  • Between the years of 2009 and 2014, enough natural gas was wasted through venting, flaring and leaks to power more than five million homes for a year. By ensuring this rule stays in place, we can be assured that a valuable resource is captured.
  • Further, a 2010 U.S. Government Accountability Office report estimates that the methane gas wasted through venting, flaring, and leaks on public lands would have been worth $23 million annually in royalty revenues, which would otherwise fund schools, roads and bridges, and local conservation efforts.

Thank you! But now let’s get back to work!

We are facing a wildlife crisis in our nation—and we must act!  More than 1 in 3 species are facing potential extinction in the coming decades.  We’re urging Congress to focus on solving this crisis by investing in proactive wildlife conservation, addressing the growing wild fire crisis, reforming subsidies that encourage habitat destruction (like the ethanol mandate and flood insurance program), restoring America’s waterways, and adopting market-based climate solutions.

These are some of biggest natural resource challenges of our time and we must address them if wildlife are to survive and thrive in our rapidly changing world. Please retweet to let Congress know it’s time to get to work!

How Senators Voted on Repealing the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Reduction Rule (NO is the pro-wildlife vote):

Alabama:             Senator Richard Shelby – YES                  Senator Luther Strange – YES

Arkansas:             Senator Lisa Murkowski – YES                Senator Dan Sullivan – YES

Arizona:               Senator John McCain – NO                       Senator Jeff Flake – YES

Arkansas:             Senator John Boozman – YES                  Senator Tom Cotton – YES

California:           Senator Diane Feinstein – NO                   Senator Kamala Harris – NO

Colorado:            Senator Michael Bennet – NO                    Senator Cory Gardner – YES

Connecticut:       Senator Richard Blumenthal – NO           Senator Chris Murphy – NO

Delaware:           Senator Tom Carper – NO                           Senator Chris Coons – NO

Florida:                Senator Bill Nelson – NO                            Senator Marco Rubio -YES

Georgia:              Senator Johnny Isakson –YES                    Senator David Perdue – YES

Hawaii:               Senator Brian Schatz – NO                          Senator Mazie Hirono – NO

Idaho:                  Senator Mike Crapo – YES                          Senator Jim Risch – YES

Illinois:               Senator Dick Durbin – NO                        Senator Tammy Duckworth – NO

Indiana:              Senator Joe Donnelly – NO                        Senator Todd Young – YES

Iowa:                    Senator Chuck Grassley – YES                  Senator Joni Ernst – YES

Kansas:                Senator Pat Roberts – YES                         Senator Jerry Moran – YES

Kentucky:            Senator Mitch McConnell – YES              Senator Rand Paul – YES

Louisiana:            Senator Bill Cassidy – YES                        Senator John Kennedy – YES

Maine:                 Senator Susan Collins – NO                       Senator Angus King – NO

Maryland:            Senator Ben Cardin – NO                       Senator Chris Von Hollen – NO

Massachusetts: Senator Elizabeth Warren – NO                Senator Ed Markey – NO

Michigan:            Senator Debbie Stabenow – NO              Senator Gary Peters – NO

Minnesota:         Senator Amy Klobuchar – NO                  Senator Al Franken – NO

Mississippi:          Senator Thad Cochran – YES                  Senator Roger Wicker – YES

Missouri:             Senator Claire McCaskill – NO                 Senator Roy Blunt – YES

Montana:            Senator Jon Tester – NO                            Senator Steve Daines – YES

Nebraska:            Senator Deb Fischer – YES                       Senator Ben Sasse -YES

Nevada:               Senator Dean Heller – YES            Senator Catherine Cortez Masto – NO

New Hampshire: Senator Jeanne Shaheen – NO               Senator Maggie Hassan – NO

New Jersey:        Senator Bob Menendez – NO                   Senator Cory Booker – NO

New Mexico:      Senator Tom Udall – NO                            Senator Martin Heinrich – NO

New York:           Senator Chuck Schumer – NO                  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand – NO

North Carolina: Senator Richard Burr – YES                      Senator Thom Tillis – YES

North Dakota:    Senator John Hoeven – YES                     Senator Heidi Heitkamp – NO

Ohio:                    Senator Sherrod Brown – NO                   Senator Rob Portman – YES

Oklahoma:          Senator Jim Inhofe – YES                          Senator James Lankford – YES

Oregon:               Senator Ron Wyden – NO                          Senator Jeff Merkley – NO

Pennsylvania:     Senator Bob Casey – NO                            Senator Pat Toomey – YES

Rhode Island:     Senator Jack Reed – NO                      Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – NO

South Carolina:  Senator Lindsey Graham – NO                Senator Tim Scott – YES

South Dakota:    Senator John Thune – YES                        Senator Mike Rounds – YES

Tennessee:          Senator Lamar Alexander – YES              Senator Bob Corker – YES

Texas:                  Senator John Cornyn – YES                       Senator Ted Cruz – YES

Utah:                    Senator Orrin Hatch – YES                        Senator Mike Lee – YES

Vermont:             Senator Patrick Leahy – NO                      Senator Bernie Sanders – NO

Virginia:               Senator Mark Warner – NO                      Senator Tim Kaine – NO

Washington:       Senator Patty Murray – NO                       Senator Maria Cantwell – NO

West Virginia:     Senator Joe Manchin – NO                Senator Shelley Moore Capito – YES

Wisconsin:          Senator Ron Johnson – YES                      Senator Tammy Baldwin – NO

Wyoming:           Senator Mike Enzi – YES                            Senator Mike Barasso – YES