Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

More than 156,000 Citizens Press EPA for Clean Air

Fracking

Environmental Defense Fund

More than 156,000 concerned citizens and 33 environmental and public health groups filed public comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past four months, pressing for strong, updated air pollution protections from oil and gas drilling. Environmental groups submitted technical comments to the EPA highlighting the strengths of the agency’s proposed rule and explaining how it could be improved. The comment period ends Nov. 30.

“When the air in Wyoming gets smoggier than the air in Los Angeles, something has gone wrong. Thanks to lax air regulations on the oil and gas industry, that’s exactly what’s happened,” said Earthjustice Attorney Robin Cooley. “As demonstrated by the impressive volume of public comments on EPA’s proposed protections from oil and gas industry air pollution, the American public is eager to clean our air of lung-burning, cancer-causing pollutants.”

The country is in the midst of a gas rush, spurred on by a controversial technology know as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically laced water into the ground to crack shale rock and force out gas.

“Over the past several months, thousands of families stood up to the dirty gas industry and asked the EPA to fight for clean air,” said Deb Nardone, director of Sierra Club's Natural Gas Reform Campaign. “This industry is growing at an incredible rate and the weak air safeguards now in place do not protect the health of our communities from industry practices like hydraulic fracturing. We urge the agency to adopt these standards without delay and strengthen them to include overlooked pollutants and pollution sources.”

Fumes from natural gas and oil wells dump smog-forming pollutants and cancer-causing benzene into the air. In the drilling-rig-studded Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming, levels of pollution-forming ozone reached 123 parts per billion earlier this year—worse than air quality in traffic-intensive Los Angeles.

“Shale gas production has gone from a negligible amount just a few years ago to being almost 30 percent of total U.S. natural gas production, but national clean air standards covering these activities have not been updated since 1985 in one case and 1999 in another. They are limited, inadequate, and out of date, particularly given recent technological advances in this area, said Susanne Brooks, senior economic policy analyst at Environmental Defense Fund. “This poses a serious problem, since exploration and production activities emit numerous hazardous air pollutants and other airborne contaminants that threaten human health and the environment. Communities across the country are paying the price, suffering from air pollution in the absence of protective, comprehensive standards.”

David McCabe, atmospheric scientist with Clean Air Task Force, pointed out that while the proposed regulation of several air pollutants will help protect our nation's public health, the regulations to cut smog-forming pollutants need to be tightened further, and the regulations fail to directly regulate the release of methane into the atmosphere. “Natural gas operations emit more methane—a highly potent climate pollutant—than any other industry in the nation,” said McCabe. “In our technical comments to EPA we have made a strong case for amending the draft rule to clean up wasteful and dangerous emissions of methane from operations of the oil and gas industries.”

The public comment period on a draft rule published in August ended Nov. 30. The agency is under a court order to finalize the rule by April 3, 2012.

Because the agency failed to update air pollution standards for drilling, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance—two American environmental organizations based in the American West.

An abbreviated version of the technical comments can be found by clicking here. A full copy of the technical comments will be available upon request.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Just over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."

Read More Show Less
Dicamba is having a devastating impact in Arkansas and neighboring states. A farmer in Mississippi County, Arkansas looks at rows of soybean plants affected by dicamba. The Washington Post / Getty Images

Documents unearthed in a lawsuit brought by a Missouri farmer who claimed that Monsanto and German chemical maker BASF's dicamba herbicide ruined his peach orchard revealed that the two companies knew their new agricultural seed and chemical system would likely damage many U.S. farms, according to documents seen by The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and other leaders speak to the press on March 28, 2020 in Seattle. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Washington State has seen a slowdown in the infection rate of the novel coronavirus, for now, suggesting that early containment strategies have been effective, according to the Seattle NBC News affiliate.

Read More Show Less
A bushfire burns outside the Perth Cricket Stadium in Perth, Australia on Dec. 13, 2019. PETER PARKS / AFP via Getty Images

By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley

2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.

Read More Show Less

By Fino Menezes

Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.

Read More Show Less