FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2021
Kelly Rimar (206) 437-4518 firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy Experts, Frontline Leaders, Corporate Accountability Advocates Analyze EPA’s New Proposed Methane Safeguards, Highlight Opportunities for Public Engagement
Washington, DC — Today, policy experts, frontline leaders, and corporate accountability advocates joined a press briefing to respond to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed new Clean Air Act safeguards to reduce methane and other harmful pollutants from new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas industry which were announced earlier today.
The proposed federal safeguards, which include a requirement that all pneumatic controllers be non-emitting, will help to reduce pollution, and tackle the climate crisis. However, the proposal leaves important sources such as frequent inspections at smaller wells and a ban on routine flaring unaddressed. These must be included before the proposal is finalized to ensure EPA is protecting frontline communities from pollution, safeguarding public health, holding oil and gas companies accountable, and acting on climate.
During the briefing, speakers highlighted the climate impact of the proposed safeguards, outlined the implications for communities living on the frontlines of oil and gas development, and identified opportunities for EPA to strengthen the rules before they are finalized.
“Moms across the nation are thankful that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules to cut methane and other harmful air pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations,” said Patrice Tomcik, a National Field Manager with Moms Clean Air Force, whose children attend school near oil and gas operations in Pennsylvania. “Quickly and significantly reducing methane pollution is one of the best levers we have to slow the rate of climate change now and help clean up the air to protect children’s health. This is why it is so important for EPA’s final rule to include frequent inspections for smaller, leak-prone wells – which are an outsized source of methane emissions.”
“The decisions made in offices hundreds of miles away from the oil fields have a direct impact on people,” said Kendra Pinto, a Four Corners Indigenous Community Field Advocate with Earthworks who shared concerns over oil and gas development near her community in New Mexico. “This administration has made repeated commitments to solve the climate crisis and strengthen engagement with the communities I serve. Do not waste any more time when change is needed now.”
“President Biden has made it clear that he understands that the climate crisis is here, and it is a code red for humanity. I have faith that his administration will take actions that match these words, but they cannot do that by listening to the oil and gas industry,” said Josh Eisenfeld, a Corporate Accountability Campaign Manager with Earthworks, who warned that the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted to cut methane on its own. “We cannot rely on the industry to tell the truth — we must shorten their leash.”
“For the first time, EPA has proposed regulations that would apply to the hundred of thousands of existing oil and gas well sites across the US,” said Jon Goldstein, a Senior Director for Regulatory and Legislative Affairs with the Environmental Defense Fund, who highlighted how the proposed safeguards would go beyond those introduced during the Obama administration. Goldstein also detailed how EPA must strengthen the proposal by ensuring that small, leak-prone wells are regularly inspected, and curtailing flaring at oil and gas sites.
EPA will take comment on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. EPA will hold a virtual public hearing, and will host virtual trainings to help communities, Tribes and small businesses learn more about the proposed rule and participating in the public comment process. Those trainings begin November 16.