This was written by Melissa Nootz, Moms Clean Air Force Montana Field Organizer. It originally appeared in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Like any parent, I’m often thinking about my children’s quality of life, wanting to make sure our community is a safe and healthy place for them to grow, learn and play. When Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wanted to auction off public lands for oil and gas development near my home in Livingston, Montana, members of our community united to communicate to the BLM that we were strongly opposed to these lease sales, and Secretary Zinke heard our message and deferred some lease sales.
However, these deferments come at a time when Secretary Zinke has proposed gutting the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane and Waste Prevention rule. It’s frustrating to see Secretary Zinke take this action, especially since a recent poll found that over 77 percent of Montanans support the BLM methane waste rule. Methane waste on public lands means lost revenue for the public, but also dangerous air pollution that will harm children, especially those living nearest to oil and gas development.
Our changing climate and growing wildfire seasons are already exposing Montana kids to declining air quality for longer stretches of their childhoods. This certainly isn’t the time to remove common sense rules that have the added benefit of protecting air quality and our children’s health. The BLM Methane Waste rule is common sense: It would prevent the waste of a precious resource, keep our air clean, and help protect our children from the impacts of climate change.
We agree with Secretary Zinke that resource extraction is not appropriate everywhere, especially where our children live, learn and play. But we would add that wasting a valuable natural resource isn’t appropriate anywhere, especially when the cost is our children’s health. We expect Secretary Zinke to listen to Montana voices, and uphold the BLM methane waste rule.