Increasing Energy Security by Reducing Waste

For the past decade, I have worked as a technical recruiter, specializing in recruiting software engineers who are employed within the Department of Defense, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Communities. These engineers build the systems that keep our nation safe.

Because of my proximity to our nation’s national security apparatus and my concern for properly stewarding our natural resources, I have paid close attention to what national security experts have said about the intersection of energy and our national security.

Properly stewarding America’s energy supplies is vitally important for our national security. The less we rely on the world market to purchase energy, the less we are impacted by instability in the Middle East and market decisions by OPEC.

As we transition to more secure home-grown energy, which is not subject to the whims of world market commodity prices and foreign cartels, we need to ensure that all the fossil energy that’s produced is put to productive use.

For years, Republicans in Congress have championed the cause of energy independence, getting off foreign oil, and providing low-cost energy to Americans. Yet now that they control both Congress and the Presidency, Republicans are poised to throw those promises out the window.

With the Congressional Review Act, some extreme members of the GOP are seeking to reverse a regulation, the Methane and Waste Reduction Rule, created by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to reduce the waste of American-owned natural gas — and prohibit the agency from implementing a similar rule ever again.

Those leading this effort in Congress are taking their cues from the American Petroleum Institute and the Koch Brothers-funded Freedom Partners. This extreme action is a boon for industry lobbyists, and it does not make for a better, safer America.

To ensure our energy independence, we must not allow natural gas to be wasted through leaks that go unnoticed, deliberately vented into the atmosphere, or burned off. That’s why the Interior Department’s wasted gas rule is so important.

BLM’s wasted gas rule seeks to make sure we’re using, not losing, natural gas that is produced from public lands. This resource is owned by all Americans, and BLM has a legal requirement to make sure that it isn’t wasted.

As an added benefit, the rule would reduce methane pollution, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The Department of Defense “recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to U.S. interests globally. The Pentagon refers to climate change as a “threat multiplier” because it aggravates existing stressors such as poverty, poor farming conditions, and political instability, which in turn creates environments where terrorist activity thrives. An increase in defense missions, will cost us human lives and taxpayer dollars.

My role as a technical recruiter doesn’t just inform my understanding of national security. It also means I am focused on finding talented candidates to fill newly created, high-quality jobs. While many oil and gas jobs have been lost due to automation and the worldwide, long-term drop in oil and natural gas prices, a new and growing sector of the oil and gas industry holds the promise of creating more jobs for the future.

The methane mitigation industry already supports good-paying jobs at 531 locations in nearly every state of the country, according to a report from Datu Research.

Allison Lami Sawyer, the CEO and co-founder of those companies, Texas-based Rebellion Photonics, recently made the case for why members of Congress should support common-sense rules to reduce leaks: “These are blue-collar, high-paying jobs programs that are impossible to export.”

BLM’s wasted gas rule requires that oil and gas companies check their equipment regularly for leaks. This isn’t just logical, it also means that methane mitigation companies will have regular work for their employees, which increases our nation’s stability. Why wouldn’t Congress want more of these solid jobs?

Before relocating to Washington, D.C., last year, I spent three years living in western Colorado, not far from drilling fields on public lands. I’ve seen first-hand what oil and gas development looks like on our public lands, and I know the strategic importance of making sure it’s done right.

As a professional attuned to national security and someone who has lived across the West, I hope that our elected representatives in the Senate will vote for energy security and national security, and against using the Congressional Review Act to gut BLM’s wasted gas rule.

Preventing waste, and cleaning up climate-damaging pollution, isn’t just good for taxpayers. It is also vital for our national security.


Jen Sager is the lead technical recruiter for Whiteboard Federal Technologies, and has recruited for the intelligence, law enforcement and department of defense communities for the past 12 years. She lives in the D.C. metro area.

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