LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We must reduce flaring now

By – – Thursday, March 7, 2019


As a Texan who believes fossil-fuel use causes climate change, I find Ryan Sitton’s March 4 op-ed misleading (“A nightmare for the American dream, and a tyrant’s expensive fantasy,” Web). The Green New Deal will not eliminate your cows, choices or freedom. Instead, it addresses what powerful people like Mr. Sitton have failed to do for decades: Reduce emissions.

Mr. Sitton denies climate science. Instead of attacking proposed solutions, he could implement reduction strategies in oil and gas operations in Texas. First, he could reduce fugitive methane emissions, as methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The nonprofit Earthworks routinely identifies rigs with excessive methane and other toxic emissions. The Environmental Defense Fund’s analysis of satellite data shows flaring is much higher than reported, indicating Earthworks’ findings only scratch the surface. Second, Mr. Sitton could deny drilling permits when gas from a startup well is destined to flare beyond a 10-day (or, at most, 45-day) permit, not 180-plus days. Extended flaring prolongs exposure of toxic gases to nearby communities, threatening health and wasting resources and revenue.

Texas oil and natural gas are important to our future energy mix. Natural gas is a valuable bridge fuel from coal. But we diminish that value if we do not harvest it responsibly.

Texas needs leadership at the Railroad Commission willing to responsibly regulate and put the interest of all Texans above that of industry.


Austin, Texas

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