Lutheran leader speaks out against methane pollution

Posted on March 7, 2016 by ELCA Advocacy

Earlier this month, the Rev. Nelson Bock, co-director of Wartburg West,  testified at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hearing in Colorado. At the hearing, Pastor Bock voiced the faith community’s concern for God’s Creation, and his support for a proposed rule that would reduce Methane Emissions on Public and Tribal Lands. You can learn more about the BLM proposed rule at the Dept. of Interior by clicking here. 

Lakewood,  CO  March 1, 2016

I am a Lutheran minister, and I teach on the subject of religion and the environment for a Lutheran college. I am also a GreenFaith fellow, having graduated from the GreenFaith program for religious environmental leadership in 2008. And I am a member of the Board of Directors of Colorado Interfaith Power and Light, one of 40 IPL state affiliates working with communities of faith to lessen the impacts of climate change through education, through taking action to reduce their own carbon footprints, and through advocacy for more environmentally responsible policies at every level of government. We do this out of our conviction that we human beings have a divine calling and responsibility as caretakers of the creation– the beautiful, intricate, interdependent web of life and natural resources upon which all life, including our own, depends.

We cannot pretend that our activity on the earth has no impacts and no consequences. Indeed, our own well-being as a human community is dependent on the well-being of the ecosphere of which we are a part.

In addition to what we know about the emission of carbon dioxide by the burning of fossil fuels, including natural gas, and its affect on the climate, we also know that methane is itself a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more potent than CO2, and that the increasing leakage of methane into the atmosphere in connection with drilling and fracking activities has become a growing problem as we seek ways to limit emission of greenhouse gases. We must have strong regulations by which we can enforce the need for such limits.

I also have personal testimony on the topic of methane leakage. My wife and I own property in the North Fork Valley on the western slope of Colorado. Last year, as we were driving through the national forest on Stevens Gulch Road south from County Road 265, we turned off on a Forest Service Road. As we drove along, we began noticing a strong smell of fumes. We rolled down the windows, but the smell was coming into the car from outside, so we rolled the windows back up.Soon we came to a place where the road was blocked and a man who was not wearing a Forest Service uniform told us the road was closed and we had to turn around. When we asked why the road was closed, he told us they were drilling a mile or so down the road. So we turned around and drove back to 265. The strong smell persisted, and we began experiencing headaches and nausea. As we continued to drive away, about 15 minutes later both the smell and the symptoms of illness were gone. Our suspicion was and is that they were caused by hydrocarbons leaking from that well, and we will do whatever we need to in order to prevent further drilling for oil and natural gas without those stringent safeguards.

Thank you.

The Rev. Nelson Bock


Interested in hearing more faith perspectives on the BLM Methane Rule? Read more, including thoughts from Lutheran Pastor David Nichols, by clicking here

Share