At the end of April, twenty-two members of the Western Energy Alliance traveled Washington, DC in the hopes of representing the perspectives Western energy employees. Over the course of a few days, WEA members met with Senators and Congressmen as well as the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. Though there still remains some legislative ground to cover as the area’s oil and gas industry work toward the future, the Washington, DC Call-Up was a great opportunity for Western oil and gas producers to introduce themselves to new staffers on the Hill, catch up with seasoned veterans, and most importantly discuss what the industry does to provide everyone in the United States a much needed and sought after product at a very affordable price.
Overturning the Venting and Flaring Rule
One of the biggest goals of the WEA’s trip to Washington was an attempt to lobby for the repeal of oppressive Obama-era regulations from the Bureau of Land Management that place harsh restrictions on the industry’s venting and flaring. Unfortunately, the primary focus on Capitol Hill during the trip was avoiding a government shutdown. As a result, to the “disappointment” of WEA officials, the Senate was unable to vote on the issue.
When the Senate did finally take up the vote on May 10, surprise defections from within the Republican Party, most notably from longtime Arizona Senator John McCain. Rumors swirling around the vote suggest that McCain may have split with the party not because he opposed repealing the legislation, but because he was upset over another issue entirely. Whether or not that’s wholly true remains unconfirmed.
Several Successes Visiting the Nation’s Capitol
In a series of meetings, two of Upstream’s own team members worked to lobby on behalf of the Western Energy Alliance. Project Lead Andrea Gross and President Kim Rodell met with various legislators to discuss adopting an environment governed by reasonable state oversight.
As Rodell explained, “The current federal atmosphere of ‘one size fits all’ regulations just doesn’t work for small business owners in the energy industry. New York isn’t Colorado and it makes no sense to govern them like they are the same.”
“Industry has never argued that it should not be regulated,” she added, “but agencies, who have specific, local expertise should be the ones to oversee energy production.”
Politicians Working for the Western Energy Industry
Though the BLM’s venting and flaring rule remains in place, there is still a small army of legislators working to protect the energy industry throughout the United States.
In a meeting with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, Gross highlighted the issues currently facing the western oil and gas operators, including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform. “As a mid-western state, he understood our stance and the necessity to educate nonwestern states to our western culture,” she said.
In a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, members of the Western Energy Alliance reported a swell of pleasure at learning about the Secretary’s plans for the future of energy.
“As a former U.S. Representative for Montana and an outdoorsman, Zinke brings much needed western federal lands knowledge with him to a district that is often miles away — geographically and culturally — from the western way of life,” said Rodell.
A Step in the Right Direction
“Reforming federal overregulation is important,” says Rodell. “Adding an additional layer of federal regulations adds incredible expense to the extraction process without improving the overall quality. That expense only hurts the consumer. In addition, the length of time it takes to get things done at a federal level can greatly impact projects. A company that cannot plan will surely fail.”
“My first trip to Washington D.C. was truly an eye opening experience,” summarized Gross. “The experience and energy of DC was exhilarating, but continued work like the Washington D.C. Call Up is vital in Western Energy’s efforts for responsible and reasonable energy legislation and regulation.”