More than 150 people gathered outside U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s Durango offices Tuesday, demanding the Republican senator oppose the rollback of methane waste regulations.
“We’re here to support the health of our environment, our people and our air for generations to come,” said Tam Horstman, a Durango resident and member of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “Let’s protect it.”
While demonstrators stood outside Gardner’s offices near Office Depot, a handful of constituents from Southwest Colorado met with Gardner’s Durango representative, Ann McCoy Harold. Harold denied The Durango Herald access to the meeting.
People outside called for Gardner to oppose a recent push by the Republic-held Congress to repeal a rule passed in the final days of the Obama administration aimed at reducing the wasteful release of methane on public and tribal lands.
The rule, which is expected to save $330 million worth of leaked natural gas, as well as reduce a major greenhouse gas contributor on Bureau of Land Management lands, was finalized in November.
The new rule is subject to repeal as Congress enacts a rarely used federal law, known as the Congressional Review Act. The act also was used to abolish the Stream Protection Rule, which stopped surface coal mining companies from dumping waste into waterways.
On Feb. 3, U.S. Rep Scott Tipton and the Republican-held U.S. House of Representatives voted to reverse the methane waste regulations, and the measure is headed to the Senate. If it passes the Senate, it will go to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Gardner has remained noncommittal on whether he will vote to repeal the methane regulations. Sen. Michael Bennet says he will oppose any effort to repeal the rules.
“We’re asking Senator Gardner to stand with the law so we can shut down the biggest leak of methane in America,” said Bayfield resident Alan McComas, referring to the recent NASA study that showed a massive concentration of methane over the Four Corners.
This story has been updated to correct which industry was impacted by the Stream Protection Rule. It is surface coal mining.