Quantcast

64 Groups From Across U.S. Demand Federal Limits on Air Pollution From Fracking Wells

Energy

Today, a robust coalition of 64 local, state and national groups filed a petition calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately set pollution limits on oil and gas operations in populous centers around the U.S., according to a joint press release.

 

The petition urges the EPA to exercise its authority under the Clean Air Act and require oil and gas companies to limit toxic air pollution from wells in an effort to protect public health.

“More than 150 million Americans now live near oil and gas wells or above shale areas where companies are looking to drill or engage in hydraulic fracturing, and EPA needs to set standards that restrict the hazardous air pollutants they put into the air,” said Earthjustice attorney Emma Cheuse, who filed the petition on behalf of the groups. “Oil and gas wells release chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and respiratory disease, and EPA should protect our communities, especially our children, from exposure to these hazards.”

With fracking and other extraction methods encroaching onto urban, suburban and other populated areas, the groups say it is vitally important for the EPA to regulate the energy sector's hazardous air pollution. The petition states that at least 100,000 tons per year of dangerous air pollution from oil and gas well sites—such as benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, methanol, naphthalene and more—are currently being released freely into the air. These pollutants have been linked to respiratory and neurological problems, birth defects and cancer.

 “Oil and gas wells release chemicals that have clearly and definitely been linked to health harms from nose bleeds and headaches to cancer, birth defects, and respiratory disease,” said James Dahlgren, MD, an internist with a sub-specialty in toxicology and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “I’ve witnessed the harm these toxics cause to people and given everything we know about these pollutants, the EPA must take action to protect communities from exposure to these clear hazards.”

Fumes from oil and gas operations are a big reason that cities experience unhealthy levels of ozone, especially in the summertime, like Denver's "brown cloud" of summertime smog. Photo credit: Earthjustice

“Our nation should not ask communities to trade clean air for cheap energy,” said Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Anyone living near an oil and gas development deserves to know that all necessary steps are being taken to avoid hazardous air pollution. Strong regulation is necessary to provide that assurance.”

The pace of oil and gas drilling has grown exponentially in recent years. The press release states that as of 2011, oil and gas wells in the U.S. numbered more than 1.04 million and that current estimates project that as many as 45,000 new wells could be drilled each year through 2035. 

"Almost a decade of un-and-under-regulated fracking has transformed North Texas into a sacrifice zone for the gas industry, with conservative estimates of over 1,000 tons of hazardous air pollution being released annually from industry sources,” said Jim Schermbeck of the Dallas-Ft. Worth-based Downwinders at Risk. “Breathing this toxic air pollution has left a well-documented trail of illness and disease throughout the Barnett Shale. EPA needs to do its job and protect frontline victims of fracking by reducing the toxic fallout from the practice."

The public interest law organization Earthjustice filed the petition on behalf of local and national groups with members and constituents across the U.S., including Clean Air Council, Clean Air Taskforce, Downwinders at Risk, Environmental Defense Fund, Global Community Monitor, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians.

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Cross-State Air Pollution

The Good, Bad and Ugly in Colorado's New Fracking Air Emissions Rules

World Health Organization Reports Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012

-------- 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less