March 27, 2018
By Don Schreiber, for High Country News “Writers on the Range”
My wife, Jane, and I own the Devil’s Spring Ranch in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin — one of the most active areas for natural gas production in the country. While our ranch can at times be quiet, we are never out of sight of a gas well, and not a day goes by when one of the 122 gas wells that surround our ranch isn’t leaking or venting. Not that long ago, there were three churches and four schools within a 10-mile radius of our place. Today, all of them are gone.
In May of 2017, things looked hopeful for us here at the ranch when a bipartisan group of senators voted to uphold the Bureau of Land Management’s methane and waste prevention rule from the previous year. But now, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has decided that the rule should be thrown out, allowing oil and gas wells to continue leaking, venting and flaring methane, a potent greenhouse gas.