The oil and gas industry is recklessly leaking millions of tons of methane pollution and toxic chemicals into the air. So much so, the oil and gas industry is the largest methane polluter in the United States.
These industrial leaks are like an invisible oil spill happening every day. The pollution from these leaks (and intentional releases) can have negative health impacts on communities surrounding oil and gas development, and the climate too, including:
- Increased cancer and respiratory health risk;
- Fetal defects; and
- 87 times more heat trapping power than carbon dioxide over 20 years.
That’s why the Obama Administration set a goal for the United States to cut oil and gas methane pollution by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
To make good on that pledge the Environmental Protection Agency –
- In May 2016 finalized strong methane standards covering new and modified oil and gas facilities
- Is taking concrete steps toward standards to cut methane pollution from the 1.2 million existing oil and gas facilities.
New Source Rule
On May 12, 2016 the EPA finalized methane standards that will cut 510,000 tons of methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities — the equivalent of
- 11 coal-fired power plants, or
- taking 8.5 million cars off the road every year.
The rule is also expected to reduce 210,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and 3,900 tons of air toxics annually by 2025.
The EPA’s new standards set strong limits for unintentional methane pollution. They require the oil and gas industry to use readily available, up-to-date, low cost technology and maintenance practices, to reduce this pollution.
The standards also require oil and gas companies to find and repair “leaks” — known as fugitive emissions — which are also a significant pollution source of methane and associated volatile organic compounds.
To Really #CutMethane Requires Cutting Methane from Existing Sources
Although cutting methane from new oil and gas facilities is a step in the right direction, more important is cutting pollution from the 1.2 million existing facilities because:
- Without a comprehensive standard, these facilities can continue to pollute methane without limit — the vast majority, at least 75%, of all of the wells and oil and gas infrastructure in use today will remain virtually unregulated.
- Existing facilities polluted nearly 10 million metric tons of methane in 2014 – equivalent to 200+ coal-fired power plants.
- More than 12 million people live within ½ mile of existing oil and gas facilities – they need strong standards to protect their health from the toxic pollution that is released along with methane.
EPA and the Obama administration have taken a critical step towards regulating existing facilities: an Information Collection Request (ICR) that requires oil and gas companies to provide EPA with the info needed to develop a tough standard for these facilities. And information from the public, affected communities, and tools like the Oil & Gas Threat Map can be submitted as well.
What You Can Do
But an ICR is not a guarantee EPA will issues an existing source standard. We need to keep the pressure on EPA and the Administration so they follow through.
Share the Oil & Gas Threat Map on Facebook and Twitter
Use buttons at top right.
The best way to make change is to make more people aware that there’s a problem that needs fixing.
Call your Senators!
Tell them that:
- People living with oil and gas pollution now need help ASAP; and
- We must protect our methane pollution rules to limit toxic air pollution from the 1.2 million existing oil and gas facilities around the United States.