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Rollback of anti-flaring rules has groups fuming

By Stephanie Carson • Updated May 3, 2017 at 3:00 PM

NASHVILLE – The United States frequently looks to the Middle East and political allies for oil and gas, but there is a way to capture more fuel in this country by implementing a simple regulation. 

A byproduct of oil and gas drilling is wasted gas. Congress is considering a bill that would overturn the rule that requires oil and gas companies to capture natural gas waste instead of venting or flaring it. 

In a letter to lawmakers, Vet Voice Foundation said reducing waste from what are already limited resources impacts soldiers fighting overseas. Gen. Paul Eaton, managing director at the foundation, said it’s about showing respect to service members deployed around the world. 

“How can we ask our soldiers to put their lives on the line, especially in the energy-producing countries in the Middle East, if every day we allow oil and gas companies at home to waste – by just blowing this stuff into the atmosphere or flaring it – the very resources we’re asking them to defend?” Eaton said.

The U.S. House already voted to roll back the measures, but the effort stalled in the Senate. 

Those who support overturning the rules have said that requiring companies to capture natural gas flares is a costly burden for energy companies. But according to the national Office of Natural Resources Revenue, between 2009 and 2015, federal and tribal lessees reported having vented enough gas to supply energy to more than 6 million households a year.

Eaton said when you look at the financial value of what’s leaked into the air, it puts the debate in perspective.

“What we’re talking about is important. It’s $800 million important,” he said. “I would ask that every American take a long hard look at what we’re doing to make sure that we, the American taxpayer, are benefiting from harvesting a valuable resource.”

Tennessee’s Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker will face a vote in the U.S. Senate on overturning the rules in the coming weeks.

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