“I believe in a sound, strong environmental policy that protects the health of our people and a wise stewardship of our nation’s natural resources.” – President Ronald Reagan
Those words were spoken at a time when our elected leaders, regardless of party or faction, truly believed American natural resources were worth fighting for. Clean water and clean air were priorities along with good health and safe communities.
Today our Nation is suffering from a lack of responsible environmental leadership, especially on the political right. We need more conservatives willing to show leadership and take a stand to preserve America’s natural heritage and security.
U.S. Representatives Ryan Costello and Brian Fitzpatrick showed that leadership when they voted against riders to the federal budget that would have blocked new U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut natural gas waste and methane pollution.
That is why Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship is thanking Reps. Costello and Fitzpatrick for their leadership with a print and digital ad campaign. Now it is time for other elected officials, at the state and federal level, to join them in support of commonsense policies that protect American resources and our environment.
In fact, the attack on federal methane rules is not unlike the fight happening now in the Pennsylvania legislature where legislators are trying to pass budget riders that could block air quality permits that reduce methane emissions and other pollution.
Unfortunately, natural gas waste and methane pollution is a big problem in that state. In fact, Pennsylvania oil and gas operators emit more than 110,000 tons of methane every single year through venting and leaky equipment and infrastructure.
The responsible development our energy resources is critical to our future as Americans. It is also in the long-term best interest of energy producers.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas. So when methane is released into the atmosphere that means wasted energy, lost revenue for royalty owners, lost profits for the oil and gas companies, and polluted air.
Toxic pollutants such as benzene and other-ozone forming pollutants are released alongside methane during oil and gas development. These toxic pollutants can cause serious health risks that harm our children and seniors most, especially those with asthma or respiratory diseases.
Yet, commonsense, cost-effective solutions are readily available. We can develop our energy resources more responsibly. As President Reagan once so wisely noted: “preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense.”
Unfortunately, the fate of the federal methane rules is unclear, especially with efforts underway by the current administration to roll them back.
As for Pennsylvania, that state’s Democrat governor, Tom Wolf, proposed a strategy to cut methane emissions nearly two years ago, but he has been running away from his commitment ever since.
Governor Wolf and members of the Pennsylvania Senate were poised to trade away Pennsylvania’s air and water quality in a bad budget deal. Clean air and clean water are not bargaining chips for placating special interests, they are critical assets that are essential to our health, prosperity, and quality of life,”
Republican State Senator Stewart Greenleaf rejected this tradeoff. He took a principled stand, just as Representatives Costello and Fitzpatrick did at the federal level. We need more of this type of leadership and backbone to stand up and defend the health and welfare of our citizens in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
Jenkins is the president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a national nonprofit organization with 10,000 members, including nearly 1,000 members in Pennsylvania.