Submit Comments to Stop EPA Rollback of 2016 Rules about Emissions from Oil and Gas Wells

At the request of the oil and gas industry, the EPA is proposing to delay for two years and reconsider standards that were established in 2016 for emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOC), and cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, from the oil and natural gas wells, compressors and pneumatic pumps. The 2016 Final Rule requires oil and gas companies to monitor wells and compressor stations at regular intervals to detect leaks of air pollutants and to repair the leaks promptly. Rolling back these emission standards will have a high negative impact on the environment and on health, particularly the health of children in areas where oil and gas wells are located. The comment period for this proposed stay is open until August 9, 2017. The notice of the stay and the place to comment is here on Regulations.gov. Use the “Comment Now” button that is in the upper right of the page. For reference, the full 2016 Final Rule is here. To assist you in making relevant comments about why the proposed stay is harmful, see Olivia Bartlett’s testimony at the July 10, 2017 hearing at the EPA (attached). See below for some points raised by others at the hearing on July 10th that you may also want to include in your comments:

  • Methane is 80-times more harmful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, so “wait and see” is not appropriate.
  • The 2016 Final Rule requirements are necessary to reduce disease and increase health. Scientific studies have shown that populations in areas with oil and gas wells have increased health problems, including premature birth, and asthma and other respiratory problems, which correlate with well density and well emissions. Exposures during a 2-yr stay likely to have lifelong consequences for kids.
  • Many schools are located within a half mile of a gas well – which contributes to asthma attacks and missed school days for kids. For example, more than 1000 schools in Pennsylvania are located within a half mile of a gas well. Ohio has the highest number of schools within a half mile of a well.
  • Proposed stay is unethical and immoral, since EPA acknowledges that the stay will disproportionately affect children.
  • Methane leaks also kill fish and wildlife in the area.
  • The proposed rules are practical and affordable. Oil and gas companies have the technology to meet the emission requirements in the 2016 Final rule. Companies that operate in states such as Colorado, which have state regulations that are as strict or stricter than those proposed in the 2016 Final Rule have not lost profitability.
  • Finding and fixing leaks will save more than $1.5 Billion per year in wasted American energy.
  • Strong EPA rules push innovation by industry.
  • The proposed rollback is an attack on families in favor of polluters.
  • Business benefits from a healthy population, so controlling emissions is good for business.
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