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August 04, 2011

We Need Strong Oil and Gas Air Pollution Safeguards

PA drill site2web Every year, more than 25,000 oil and gas wells are drilled and fracked across the country.  (Fracking is when a mixture of water, chemicals, and sand is pumped into a well at high pressures to fracture rock and allow natural gas to escape.) 

Each new oil or gas well contributes to the millions of tons of harmful pollutants spewed into the air from this industry.

The dirty oil and gas industry is the second largest stationary source of global warming pollution in the U.S. Even worse, the industry emits more than 300 million tons of pollutants such as methane and sulfur dioxide every year.

These pollutants drastically lower outdoor air quality and are extremely hazardous to human health, causing:

  • asthma attacks
  • hospital admissions
  • emergency room visits
  • cancer
  • premature death

Last week, the EPA proposed multiple cost-effective safeguards to reduce harmful air pollution from the drilling, transmission, and storage of oil and gas. The safeguards primarily target volatile organic compounds, a toxic group of air pollutants that also react with sunlight to form smog, but also target sulfur dioxide emissions from natural gas processing plants.

This air pollution is a threat to public health and the environment.  As the EPA considers these air standards, we need to let them know how this harmful air pollution has affected our communities.

Submit a comment today asking EPA for these strong air standards to be put in place.

This important announcement addresses a major public health issue. Natural gas drilling has been spewing vast amounts of harmful pollutants and toxics into our air every day without limits, sickening families and communities. This proposed protection would help reign in life-threatening pollution from gas drilling for the first time and is a significant step forward in cleaning up a dirty industry.

PA drill site1web These are the first-ever federal safeguards aimed at cutting harmful air pollution from natural gas drilling. Without community input from people all over the U.S., these new standards will not be as strong as they need to be to fully curb harmful oil and gas pollution.

Submit a comment today asking EPA for these strong air standards to be put in place.

These proposed air pollution safeguards from EPA are cost effective and, in fact, will spark increased profits while providing substantially more protection for clean air public health from coast to coast.  The rules were spurred by the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to regularly review and update its air quality regulations in order to keep pace with science and technology.  The proposed standards would:

  • Generate a net savings of $30 million annually due to increased recovery of methane, otherwise known as natural gas.
  • Reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 540,000 tons, an industry-wide reduction of 25%.
  • Reduce methane emissions by 3.4 million tons, which is equal to 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a reduction of about 26%.   This will be like eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of 15 coal-fired power plants.
  • Reduce toxic air pollutants, such as benzene, a known carcinogen, by 38,000 tons, a 30% reduction.

Submit a comment today asking EPA for these strong air standards to be put in place.

We need to urge the EPA to strengthen our nation's clean air standards for the oil and gas industry.  These protections will safeguard the public's health and welfare and spur responsible energy development. The current air standards have not kept pace with the industry and these proposed standards are an important first step to bring the oil and gas industries into compliance.

Yet despite the fact that these rules were based on proven technology and best practices already being used by the oil and gas industry in some states today, the industry is already pushing back. They claim that these safeguards aren't needed and are pressuring the EPA to extend the February deadline for the standards.

Submit a comment today asking EPA for these strong air standards to be put in place.

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign


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