Weiser Looks To Methane Rule As Inspiration For AG Tenure
Calling Colorado a model for the rest of the country when it comes to energy production and regulations to protect the environment, the Democratic nominee for attorney general said he’d look to build on rules developed in the state and adopted nationally, like the federal methane rule, as guidance.
Phil Weiser, a Democrat and former dean of the University of Colorado Law School and an Obama White House senior adviser, faces George Brauchler, the district attorney for the 18thJudicial District.
Western Wire had the opportunity to catch up with Weiser in the waning days of the campaign, to expand on his environmental stances and approach as AG should he win next Tuesday.
Weiser pointed to the federal methane rule when asked how Colorado’s attorney general should approach federal government regulations and the current atmosphere of multi-state litigation from attorneys general against both former and current administrations.
“In Colorado, we have developed unique approaches to protecting our land, air, and water as well as enabling energy development,” Weiser said. “Take, for example, the Methane Rule developed in Colorado and adopted by both the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and the U.S. Interior Department. Given that Colorado already requires oil and gas companies here to follow this rule, and 2/3rd of methane emissions in Colorado comes from surrounding states, Colorado is well-served by the federal Methane Rule.”
The Trump administration has pushed to revise the 2016 Methane Waste and Prevention Rule at the Bureau of Land Management, which focuses on current oil and gas production, and EPA is considering a revision to its methane rule for new sources.
House Democrats will likely revisit and attempt to shore-up Obama administration rules, including methane, should they win control of Congress.
Weiser said the current administration’s efforts to roll back regulations on methane emissions is one he would tackle as attorney general, including the possibility of taking legal action.
“In the face of efforts to dismantle protections important to Colorado–like the federal Methane Rule–the role of Colorado’s AG is to evaluate whether such dismantling is legal,” Weiser said. “If the rollback of protections that are important to Colorado is illegal and hurts Coloradans, the role of the Colorado Attorney General is to stand up for Colorado’s interests.”
Weiser explained that he saw Colorado as a “model” for energy development, one that takes into account the needs of industry and the protection of health for Colorado residents.
“With respect to protections of our land, air, and water, and rules governing energy development, I will seek to develop and support efforts in Colorado like the Methane Rule,” Weiser said.
“In so doing, Colorado can again be a model to show our nation how to develop energy of all kinds, and enact policies that allow the industry to operate effectively and protect the health of our citizens,” he added.
For Weiser, safe energy development and building trust should be core principles for the office.
“Developing trust among the citizenry that energy development in Colorado will continue to be an important part of our economy and take place in a manner that is safe and protects the public health will be an important responsibility of our next Attorney General. I will take that role very seriously,” Weiser said.
At a Colorado Chamber of Commerce debate last week, Weiser said he would not add Colorado to lawsuits targeting Exxon Mobil, saying the litigation made him “uncomfortable.”
Weiser added that he did not see himself as an “activist” attorney general.
“I’m not about being an activist one way or the other, I’m about following the facts,” Weiser said.
“Attorney General Coffman’s handling of this case—both at the outset and in appealing the Martinez decision—fails to advance sound policy or correctly interpret Colorado law. Instead, it is yet another example of a misguided lawsuit that undermines Colorado’s problem-solving attitude and our commitment to our environment and public health,” Weiser wrote on his campaign website.