Las Vegas Sun

September 15, 2019

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Guest Column:

Methane regulation crucial for Nevada’s environment, economy

My company, Escape Adventures, has been a part of outdoor recreation economy in Las Vegas and the West for more than two decades. My business and my family are invested in our state, but we need the public lands that make it great to remain protected in order for our business to thrive.

That is why we strongly support recently finalized rules from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to limit methane waste and pollution from oil and gas drilling on public lands.

Unfortunately, some in Congress are considering rolling back these rules. That would be the wrong choice for Nevada. It would weaken protections on an important natural resource — methane, the primary component of natural gas — hurting taxpayers and our health. A repeal of this rule also would give the natural gas industry an unfair advantage over Nevada’s burgeoning renewable energy sector.

In Nevada, oil and gas development remains speculative. Oil and gas companies have leased about 2.3 million acres for energy development, and while only a few dozen leases are producing, we can expect to see renewed interest when prices recover.

What isn’t speculative is Nevada’s renewable energy sector, which has become a strong and growing economic driver for our state. This BLM methane waste rule ensures that our Nevada renewable energy industry is able to compete in the clean energy marketplace on an equal footing.

Methane is such a super-charged climate pollutant — pound for pound more than 80 times worse than carbon dioxide in the short term. Reducing this pollution is the right thing to do for Nevada’s climate as well. Scientists estimate about a quarter of the warming we are already experience is directly attributable to methane, and as the U.S. largest industrial source of that pollution, the oil and gas industry owes it to us to do what it can to limit that impact.

The BLM methane waste rule also is the right choice for Nevada taxpayers. Oil and gas companies are wasting more than $330 million worth of natural gas on federal and tribal lands each year. In fact, enough natural gas is being wasted to supply a city the size of Chicago for a year. Furthermore, Nevadans (and all American) taxpayers could lose out on $800 million over the next decade as a result of venting and flaring natural gas alone. Half of those revenues go to the U.S. treasury meaning all taxpayers, including those in Nevada, stand to lose if this rule is repealed.

The BLM methane waste rule is an opportunity to help ensure that when energy prices do recover, oil and gas development will be accomplished responsibly and that there will be a fair return to taxpayers in Nevada, and throughout the U.S. In addition, the waste rule also will help to decrease health-related problems associated with methane release and level the playing field for Nevada’s renewable energy industry.

At Escape, we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to sustainability. In 2006, we became the world’s first carbon-neutral outfitter. The meals we provide guests on our tours support local, organic growers. Additionally, we have contributed over 75 kilowatts of renewable energy to the state of Nevada through our own renewable energy projects, built both LEED Gold and Platinum buildings in Las Vegas, and continue to offer free consultation to other companies that want to be environmentally responsible. From 2006 to 2011, we converted six commercial vehicles to run off recycled kitchen grease, producing 80 percent less pollution than standard commercial gas powered vehicles. We are doing our part. We only ask that the oil and gas industry also do theirs.

As proud members of the Nevada business community, we urge Sen. Dean Heller to join his colleague Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in opposing the attempt to repeal the Bureau of Land Management methane waste rule via the Congressional Review Act.

Jared Fisher is the co-owner and operator of Escape Adventures, Las Vegas Cyclery, RTC Bike Center and Moab Cyclery. Since 1992, Jared and his wife Heather have been operating single-day and multiday bike tours in Nevada, around the American West and in Canada.

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