Photo of natural gas fire by Tod Baker for an article by the Rio Grande Sierra Club about oil and gas risks in New Mexico

For Immediate Release

CONTACTS: Alan Septoff, Earthworks, 202-271-2355, aseptoff@earthworksaction.org
Stuart Ross, Clean Air Task Force, 914-649-5037, sross@catf.us

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

As impacted citizens testify that ‘stay’ will harm their health, new analysis shows over 200,000 live within ½ mile threat radius of 18,000 affected facilities

Washington, D.C., July 10th –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 correlated with 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.”

People living within ½ mile of a well that would be impacted by 2 year NSPS stay

State

Total population

Children < 18

Alabama

226

55

Alaska

3

0

Arkansas

873

203

California

9,438

1,715

Colorado

5,307

1,507

Kansas

82

20

Kentucky

961

221

Louisiana

22,307

5,388

Michigan

1,534

291

Mississippi

559

145

Montana

10

2

Nebraska

260

58

New Mexico

3,772

1,077

New York

40

7

North Dakota

1,453

375

Ohio

20,516

4,632

Oklahoma

15,155

3,886

Pennsylvania

15,607

3,166

Tennessee

3

0

Texas

101,038

27,607

Utah

211

66

Virginia

1,409

279

West Virginia

2,075

396

Wyoming

450

116

Grand Total

203,289

51,212

For More Information:

IMPORTANT NOTE: A court ruled recently that Administrator Pruitt’s 90 day administrative stay was illegal. Today’s hearing is about a 2 year regulatory stay on which no court has yet ruled.

Census/well data analysis showing number of people — broken down by state and by county — living within ½ mile of oil and gas facilities that would be affected by Pruitt’s 2 year stay: http://bit.ly/NSPS-analysis
Livestream of impacted residents testifying in front of EPA headquarters from noon to 1ish (eastern): https://www.facebook.com/earthworksaction/

EPA: New Source Performance Standards: http://bit.ly/EPA-NSPS

EPA: Notice of proposal to stay NSPS for 2 years: http://bit.ly/EPA-NSPS-2yr-Notice

EPA: Public hearing re 2 year stay: http://bit.ly/EPA-NSPS-2yr-Hearing
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Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

www.earthworksaction.org
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This press release was originally published here.

Feature image – natural gas fire by Tod Baker

Clean Air Task Force * Earthworks
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