Testimony On EPA’s Proposed Methane Pollution Standards for the Oil and Gas Industry
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This testimony was provided by Shannon Smith, FracTracker Alliance Executive Director, on January 11, 2023, at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing on federal methane pollution standards. FracTracker Alliance supports strong federal methane rules and urges further improvements that are needed to curb dangerous methane emissions.
The U.S. EPA is accepting public comments until February 13, 2023.
Testimony on Federal Methane Rules
Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is harmful to our health, our safety, and the climate.
Thank you to the EPA for the recent steps you’ve taken to address methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, and thank you to all of those attending who have taken the time to provide comments. Ensuring regular inspections at all sites; maintaining requirements to use zero-emitting technologies; addressing super-emitters through third-party monitoring; and requiring that abandoned wells are subject to monitoring until closure are all significant steps in the right direction. My comments today are in support of further improvements that are needed to curb dangerous methane emissions.
Operators should be required to capture unnecessary gas flaring and venting during oil drilling or liquids unloading, aka “blowdowns.” Blowdowns cause excessive toxic air pollution and should be avoided at all costs. This is important in places like Pennsylvania, where more residents are exposed to increased cancer risks caused by the oil and gas industry than residents in any other state in the country. Short-term peaks of air pollution due to oil and gas activities like flaring, venting, and blowdowns can cause health impairments in a matter of minutes, especially in sensitive populations such as people with asthma, children, and the elderly.
Reducing venting and flaring will significantly decrease emissions of methane, VOCs, and carcinogens.
How will EPA take an active role in the application of pollution reduction technologies to reduce air pollution from blowdowns?
How will the agency evaluate and approve or deny venting and flaring applications from operators? What role will states have?
We are counting on this Administration and your agency to respond to the serious concerns raised today. The recently proposed supplemental methane pollution standards are meaningful advances towards protecting public health. I look forward to seeing additional protections for communities chronically exposed to air pollution from oil and gas facilities.
The Take Away
Methane, the primary component of fracked gas, is harmful to our health, our safety, and the climate. FracTracker Alliances urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen federal methane rules by ending routine flaring (burning of excess gas). Submit a comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the deadline on February 13, 2023.
References & Where to Learn More
- Featured Pine Creek compressor station FLIR camera footage by Earthworks (May 2019)
- Learn more about the impacts of industrial pollution on air quality
- See examples of visible air emissions
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