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Regulations can be annoying, but they have done much good

Jun 14, 2017 - Tom Gagnon, Rock Springs


Annoying as regulations and laws can be, with two or more people on the planet we will continue to need them, along with good sense and decency. Erasing regulations, and altering and weakening laws, however, is the current mantra on Washington. A notable interruption of this trend, however, occurred May 10, when Republican Senators failed to overturn an Obama-era regulation to reduce the emissions of methane, from gas and oil wells, on public lands.Obama's regulation is designed to benefit tax payers, conserve a valuable resource, protect public health, and reduce the emissions of heat trapping methane. It will remain. The misguided attempt to overturn it had to do with short-term profits for fossil-fuel industries, and a bad attitude. Also, the overturn would not have created any jobs in Wyoming, or anywhere else. In fact, keeping the regulation creates local jobs.

The value of methane being flared off, at oil and gas wellheads, on public lands, is estimated to be from $330 to $444 million dollars per year. This is all untaxed and your money "up in smoke". The volume of methane involved could provide power for five million homes. Methane is twenty-one times more heat trapping than carbon, thus greatly contributing to global warming. In relatively high concentrations, such as wells near homes and schools, it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and other health effects.

State-by-state regulations are no solution at all, because though we have fifty states, we do not have fifty skies. A really high methane concentration in northwestern New Mexico, for example, shares an "air shed" with La Plata County, in Colorado, which is negatively affected in measurable ways.

Two laws that have been improving all of our lives, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, are also under threat. Passed in 1970, they have kept our air and water pretty clean, or even improved them. Some rivers on the east coast, where I grew up, now actually have runs of naturally Thank the Clean Water Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency, created to enforce the above two laws, is being gutted. It's pathetic that its scientific aspects are being watered down (or drowned), by replacing scientists with representatives from industry.

If the proverbial cliché "Hiring the fox to guard the hen house" were ever perfect, this is it. The EPA is not perfect, but when an agency has a problem, like being too slow to make decisions, the answer is not to ruin the thing, but to get in there and improve it, not wreck it. become human wrecking balls.

Gratitude is a thing that a thoughtful and good people, like we have here in Wyoming, and all over the mountain west, seems to have been forgotten back on November 8, 2016. Then, many people seemed to forget their own values and interests.

This was partly due to fake news, maybe even Russia, and it resulted in a regulation-slashing agenda, and bad attitudes. Perhaps this was accumulated from too many years of built up resentment against President Obama, for whatever reasons, and a misperception of the source of our problems, thinking that it was regulations, when really it was an attachment to an outdated economic model of easy money from fossil fuels.

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