Moves made to throttle methane emissions on Capitol Hill are driven by Colorado, and not just because it's Coloradans in Congress taking up the fight.
The Senate voted 52-42 Wednesday to restore the Obama administration's rules to curb methane emissions, which were first adopted in Colorado when John Hickenlooper was governor.
Now Hickenlooper is in the U.S. Senate and was one of those voting to reverse former President Donald Trump’s move to weaken regulations aimed at staving off climate change.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver passed legislation out of the House Natural Resources Committee, 24-19, to capture methane gas emissions from oil and gas drilling sites on public lands.
Methane is one a potent ingredient of climate change, and oil and gas production has been one of its main contributors.
Under DeGette's legislation, drillers operating on public lands would have to capture 99% of their emissions by 2026, with equipment and repair standards.
The measure is part of DeGette's Methane Waste Prevention Act.
“If we’re going to be serious about staving off the worst effects of this climate change, we’re going to have to get serious about cutting the amount of methane that’s being released into the atmosphere,” DeGette said during the hearing.
You can watch her testimony by clicking here.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet argued for his bill by citing wildfires and droughts that have ravaged Colorado, as the state has gotten hotter and drier.
"For most of the time I've been here we've treated climate change like it was somehow going to solve itself, or in some cases that it didn't really exists," he said. "And nothing could be further from the truth. This is a problem for all 50 states and every American. It's a problem for humanity."
He cited Hickenlooper's leadership in 2014 for creating the first state rules to limit methane leaks from oil and gas facilities.
"Gov. Hickenlooper worked by bringing environmentalists and industry leaders together and crafted a policy that reflected the consensus in my state around climate change," Bennet boasted.
You can watch Bennet’s Tuesday remarks on Facebook by by clicking here.
The environmental left was excited, releasing a flurry of congratulatory statements after Wednesday's twin wins.
Sabrina Pacha, program manager for Healthy Air & Water Colorado:
“Supporting S.J. Res. 14 is a critical step forward in protecting public health and we urge Congress to adopt this resolution that restores methane pollution protections. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that poses severe risks to our climate and health, and we know that adverse health outcomes disproportionately impact people of color. By passing S.J. Res. 14, Congress is not only protecting our health, but also advancing health and climate equity.”
Barbara Vasquez, a member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils:
"Whether it's state lines or reservations, air pollution doesn't respect political boundaries. Nor does climate change. That's why today's bipartisan support of SJ Res. 14 is such an important first step in drastically reducing the oil and gas industry's dangerous methane pollution across the West."
Jen Clanahan, Colorado state director for Mountain Mamas:
“We must act now to protect our children’s future. That is why moms are grateful that the U.S. Senate just voted to reinstate safeguards for methane pollution from oil and gas production. Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that causes climate change and while we are already experiencing the impacts, no one will pay the price of climate change more than our children. We hope the House now takes swift action to ensure a safe future for our kids.”
Bill Midcap, senior policy advisor for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union:
“Family farmers and ranchers are bearing the brunt of climate change which is leading to water scarcity issues and lower crop and livestock yields. Thanks to Colorado Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper for supporting this resolution that would restore rules that cut methane waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry. Now it’s time for the House to do the same, and we thank Congresswoman Diana DeGette for leading the charge there.”
Sara Loflin, executive director fo the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans:
“Coloradans across the state are dealing with the impacts of methane emissions every day. S.J.Res.14 is a crucial bipartisan step towards reducing both the acute impacts of living near facilities that emit methane and other pollutants and the cumulative climate impacts. Climate change is one of the most dire issues facing Colorado, and we are deeply grateful to Colorado's senators for supporting this resolution.”
Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado’s deputy director:
“The Senate took action to combat climate change today by invoking the Congressional Review Act on methane regulations. Colorado led the nation with methane regulations thanks to actions taken by then Governor Hickenlooper’s administration, and Sen. Bennet has been a champion for this issue in the Senate. We applaud Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper for their leadership and call on our federal delegation to continue pursuing bold action on climate; Coloradans overwhelmingly support it.”