In today’s announcement, in yet another attempt by those in the Trump Administration to cozy up to the oil and gas industry, EPA proposes to weaken the standards that requires operators to look for and repair leaks at their facilities, in placing regulatory rollbacks above protecting the public from dangerous air pollution.
“This is just another attempt by EPA to weaken the common-sense requirements for operators to look for, and repair, leaks in their operations,” said Darin Schroeder, CATF Associate Attorney. “This proposal would increase methane and ozone smog-forming VOC emissions, despite the fact that recently published EPA research shows that pollution from the oil and gas industry kills nearly 2,000 people per year.”
Make no mistake: EPA’s proposed changes would significantly increase pollution, resulting in dire and long-lasting adverse impacts on climate and the public health and welfare.
“Telling companies they no longer have to find and fix their methane leaks is like throwing away your mop and wrench when you suspect a leaky pipe in your house,” said Sarah Smith, Program Director, Short-lived Climate Pollutants for Clean Air Task Force, which is strongly opposing any Administration efforts to roll back methane pollution safeguards for oil and gas sources put in place by the Obama Administration. “It’s just common sense that you want to keep the methane in the system, just like you wouldn’t want water leaking all over your house from a faulty pipe that you can easily fix. Plus, with captured methane, you can sell it – it’s natural gas.”
The methane NSPS standards, including the requirements to look for and repair leaks, have been in place since 2016, and right now reduce emissions from more than 36,000 wells and counting across the country. In proposing to weaken the leak requirements, EPA would allow increased pollution of methane and smog-forming volatile organic compounds, as well as hazardous air pollutants, despite the fact that EPA’s LDAR program currently in place has been proven to be shown to be cost-effective. Moreover, EPA research that was recently published showed that pollution from oil and gas operations kills almost 2,000 people each year, half of which are from ozone smog.
“It’s very well documented that methane and related VOC emissions from oil and gas infrastructure are a significant threat to public health,” said Smith. “But the Administration once again has shown that it prefers to needlessly coddle its cronies in the oil and gas industry over satisfying its Clean Air Act duty to protect the health of Americans and our environment.”