Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King should be thanked for voicing their opposition to the use of the Congressional Review Act to revoke the Bureau of Land Management methane and waste reduction rule. The BLM is responsible for managing the mining of oil and gas on federal public lands for the benefit of all Americans. The methane rule was established to limit the flaring, venting and leaking of natural gas that is rampant on the more than 100,000 oil and gas wells on public lands. Between 2009 and 2014 about 375 billion cubic feet of natural gas was wasted — enough gas to supply about 5.1 million households for a year.

As a physician working in Maine for more than 36 years, I am acutely aware of the cost to people’s health as well. Indiscriminate use of fossil fuels and resulting air pollution contributes to the rising tide of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. And with methane being 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, the leakage is a large contributor to climate change.

Now is not the time to be going backwards and unraveling processes that limit the extent of climate change. Rising global temperatures are already causing illness, suffering and death. In Maine we are seeing the spread of Lyme disease, and as humidity and temperatures rise we are seeing more asthma and heat illness. Particularly vulnerable are children, the elderly, and the poor.

So I thank the senators for not supporting the reckless and shortsighted rollback of rules that offer Maine people protection of their health, and their clean air and water.

Paul Potvin, M.D.


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