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Hundreds of thousands threatened by Pruitt’s proposal to block EPA oil & gas methane safeguards

Jul 10, 2017

Credit Four Corners Power Plant. Photo courtesy of EcoFlight and San Juan Citizens Alliance

  Commentary: On the same day the Environmental Protection Agency takes public comment on Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to stay for 2 years the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to limit oil and gas methane pollution, a new analysis shows more than 203,000 Americans, including more than 51,000 children, live within ½ mile of the more than 18,000 oil and gas facilities affected by the Pruitt’s proposal. Peer-reviewed science has found that harmful air pollution from oil and gas and negative health effects are significantly correlatedwith proximity to oil and gas industry sites, such as wells and compressor stations.

“EPA is trying to give the oil and gas industry a two-year pass on common-sense measures like checking their new wells for leaks, even after a similar gambit was overturned last week by a Federal Appeals court,” said David McCabe, a Senior Scientist with Clean Air Task Force. “This analysis shows that EPA’s proposal would affect tens of thousands of kids – kids that EPA concedes may be disproportionately hurt by their proposal.  EPA should focus on protecting the health of communities affected by oil and gas pollution, instead of the convenience of the industry, and enforcing the standards on the books, rather than trying to dismantle them.”

The analysis, performed by the FracTracker Alliance using the most recently available Census data and a commercial database of oil and gas wells drilled from September 2015 through February 2017, shows populations at the state and county level who have cause for concern because they live in proximity to new oil and gas wells, but will be protected by the NSPS if Pruitt’s proposed 2 year stay does not take effect.

As the analysis is released, citizens from across the country are testifying at EPA’s headquarters (and livestreaming from noon to 1pm eastern) as to why the NSPS should not be blocked.

"When I lived in Wise County, Texas the oil and gas industry promised to contain their air pollution. They broke that promise, and fracking-related pollution ultimately forced me to abandon my dream home in order to protect my family’s health. That catastrophe gave me my life’s work. Now I help communities across the country protect their families’ health so they’re not forced out of their homes," said Sharon Wilson, Earthworks Texas Organizer and Certified Optical Gas Imaging Thermographer. "Seeing is believing and I've seen the truth, methane pollution is blasting out of oil and gas facilities from Texas to North Dakota, California to Pennsylvania. With this rule we can help stop the harm."

"I have lived in the San Juan Basin for over 70 years.  The leaks from oil and gas wells and equipment keep getting worse as more and more wells are drilled,” said Sug McNall of Aztec, New Mexico.  “The industry’s leaks here are so big that NASA scientists have monitored the pollution from space.  EPA finally put standards in place for new wells last year, and just in San Juan County, 348 kids live within a half mile of new wells where the industry has to control leaks under those rules. Pruitt wants to get rid of the standards and let industry go back to ignoring harmful leaks at their wells.  This will just lead to more toxic unhealthy emissions into the air that we all breathe.  We all deserve clean healthy air now and in the future.”

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