Yesterday 12 organizations, all with direct ties to the Koch brothers or oil and gas industry groups, sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) on the BLM’s natural gas and methane waste rule. While some of these groups may claim to represent taxpayers, freedom, and liberty, in reality these groups represent the moneyed corporate interests and the Koch brothers—all eager to pad their bottom-lines with taxpayer dollars.
As the fight over the BLM natural gas and methane waste rule heads into its final week in the Senate, this letter could not have come at a more decisive time. The letter represents how the battle over the BLM rule is a true fight between corporate interests and lobbyists against American taxpayers, Westerners, and Americans of all political stripes who believe in commonsense approaches to our energy policy.
It is hard to imagine why a sitting Senator would vote to waste $800 million in taxpayer royalties or vote against a rule with such high popularity. A Colorado College poll found that 81% of voters in Arizona and an average of 81% of Westerners support the rule. Another survey conducted by the conservative group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) found strong support for the rule across party lines, with 83% of voters in Nevada and 86% in Colorado supporting the rule, along with 80% of voters supporting the rule in both Tennessee and Ohio.
The rule has such high approval ratings that it is baffling that some Senators want to overturn it, but if you follow the money their opposition to the rule begins to make sense. A review by the Center for Western Priorities shows that the 17 sponsors of the resolution have received nearly $17 million in political donations from oil and gas interests.
While some Senators may be set on appeasing their donors, this has not deterred on the ground stakeholders from urging their Senators to support the rule and oppose the CRA resolution.
Time and time again diverse stakeholders across America have voiced their strong support for the rule. Over the past several months Latino groups, local elected officials, veterans and generals, local business owners, faith groups, national outdoor recreation businesses, the former Solicitor General of the Department of Interior, and a number of other stakeholders, have sent letters to the Senate urging them to support the rule and keep it in place.
Now is the time for our Senators to stand up for folks on the ground out West and across America, not corporate interests and backroom Koch lobbyists. The CRA is a reckless and blunt tool that, if successful, would prevent any similar rule limiting methane waste from being put in place—ever—without an act of Congress. At the speed Congress moves, a successful CRA could mean we’ll be locked into many more years of methane waste, American families, taxpayers, and local communities will be the ones who lose out.
Next week, when Senators face a vote on the measure, the choice could not be more clear: will they stand with taxpayers, members of our national security community, local elected officials, business owners, and other stakeholders or will they stand with groups with direct ties to the Koch Brothers and the oil and gas industry? We hope that those in the Senate will put the well-being of their constituents over the profits of oil and gas companies.