Energy Exchange

Six reasons the Trump EPA’s next move on oil and gas pollution standards is unnecessary and unwise

This blog was co-authored by Rosalie Winn

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not waste any time after being confirmed to start attacking EPA’s oil and gas methane pollution rules. However, in the 14 months since lodging his first assault, a lot has changed, and the case for keeping the standards robust and intact is stronger than ever.

The White House recently laid out their upcoming plans for agency action and they include (as expected) a proposal to weaken key parts of EPA’s Clean Air Act rule that sets methane pollution limits for new and modified oil and gas operations (“New Source Performance Standards” or “NSPS”), including relaxing leak detection and repair requirements and creating other loopholes.

There are many reasons why efforts to weaken the rules would be misguided. Here are just a few:

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Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

These charts show why communities are demanding common sense standards to protect them from oil and gas pollution

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been trying every trick in the book to suspend rules that require oil and gas companies to limit pollution from their operations as they look to expand drilling across the country. His attempted delay tactics follows a cozy relationship he’s had with the worst elements of the oil and gas industry in his prior role as Attorney General of Oklahoma, where he sued to block these very rules on the behalf of his oil and gas allies.

Following a historic court decision and subsequent mandate, EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (which set first-ever national methane pollution limits for the industry) are now in effect. However, Administrator Pruitt continues to push to delay these standards with a proposed two-year suspension. The impact of this action is sweeping: Hundreds of thousands of Americans live near the 21,000 oil and gas wells that should be covered by these rules.

The senseless delays of common sense pollution standards have major implications for the health and welfare of communities living downwind of oil and gas development in the U.S. Here’s why:

There is a lot of oil and gas drilling happening. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

President Trump’s budget would put communities living near oil and gas at risk

The Trump Administration and EPA Administer Pruitt recently released a proposed budget targeting the health and well-being of all Americans. Alarmingly, by stripping funding for critical safeguards, this budget would be especially detrimental to the over 15 million Americans living near oil and gas industry operations across the country.

Communities depend on EPA for air monitoring

The oil and gas industry releases methane and toxic and smog-forming pollution like benzene, from drilling wells all across the country. This has unfortunately led to declining air quality in communities living near these operations, and reports of health impacts such as nose bleeds and headaches.

Americans in areas from rural Utah to urban Los Angeles and beyond rely on a network of air monitors to give them accurate and up to date information on air quality conditions. However 30 percent of the cost of these monitors is funded by an EPA program which would see significant reductions under President Trump’s budget. And less vital pollution data could sadly mean more asthma attacks and more school and work days lost. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New EPA Guidelines Will Help Oil And Gas Communities Breathe Easier

8622279579_a15f44c77a_zWhile air quality as a whole has been improving across the United States over the past few decades, many areas that are ground zero for the nation’s expanding oil and gas industry have shown an increase in dangerous pollutants. In fact, states with substantial drilling activities saw worsening air quality recently, according to the American Lung Association’s last State of the Air report.

That’s because the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which mix with NOX and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, also known as smog. Additionally, existing oil and gas sources do not face comprehensive nationwide limits for this type of pollution.

This smog has tangible effects, though. In late September, the Clean Air Task Force released a report detailing that the amount of smog forming emissions from the oil and gas sector could lead to as many as 750,000 asthma attacks.  The report, called “Gasping for Breath,” similarly documents that these emissions could lead to more than 500,000 days of school missed and 2,000 asthma-related emergency room visits. Accompanying the report is an interactive map, developed by Earthworks, which displays data about the location of active oil and gas wells, and areas of threats to public health.

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Four Reasons We Can’t Wait to Plug the Leaks


Today, over 12 million Americans live within one-half mile of oil and gas operations. These facilities are located where people work and recreate, and where children go to school. While the administration has taken critical initial steps to limit pollution from some of these operations, their efforts to date don’t get the job done: Approximately 75 percent of today’s oil and gas operations still do not face any federal requirements to limit their emissions of harmful methane and toxic air pollution.

It’s great to see growing national and international interest being brought to an issue that was deserving of attention many years ago. But we need to move faster to rein in this problem.

Why the urgency? Here are four reasons:

  1. Americans across the country are seeing the impact of an uncontrolled oil and gas industry on their air quality.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Read 3 Responses

2016 Starts With Growing Momentum To Cut Oil And Gas Methane Pollution

Logo_PDD_2016.svg (1)We’re less than a month into 2016, and there are already signs that this could be the year the United States finally gets serious about addressing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Some strong first steps in 2015 got the ball rolling, and now attention-grabbing events like the massive methane leak in Southern California and the announcement that 2015 was the warmest year on record are opening people’s eyes to the urgency of tackling this potent climate-forcing pollution.

Great Strides Made in 2015

Many important first steps to curb oil and gas methane pollution were taken in 2015, most notably, the Obama administration setting a goal of reducing this pollution 40 to 45 percent by 2025. To help achieve this goal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August proposed a national methane emissions standard for newly built oil and gas sources. Read More »

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