Agency Takes Important First Step to Protect Air Quality and Public Health
Washington, D.C., April 18—Today environmental groups praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) vital updates to nationwide air quality protections to include oil and natural gas production. This is the first federal safeguard aimed at curbing air pollution from hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.’
The EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) will benefit the health of Americans and our environment in many ways. The updated standards will result in major reductions in emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic benzene and methane, a highly potent contributor to climate disruption. These pollutants are known to cause asthma attacks, hospital admissions, emergency room visits, cancer and even premature death.
The measure will also benefit the gas industry –EPA projects that capturing more methane and other gasses to send to market will save an estimated $30 million annually.
Despite a promised Presidential veto, the House of Representatives voted today to pass HR 1633, the “Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011”. While pollution from PM poses serious public health risks, there is no such thing as farm dust for purposes of the Clean Air Act. Nor is there such thing as farm dust for the purposes of HR 1633; the only place those words appear in the bill is in the title. Farm dust seems like nothing more than tiny harmless grains of common dirt. Since the movement toward new regulations for either dirt or PM is just fantasy, Democrats have mocked this bill as preventing regulation of pixie dust. HR 1633 instead talks about “nuisance dust”.
Today the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board – formed at the request of President Obama – issued its final draft report. The report focuses on the implementation of the many positive recommendations made by the subcommittee in its previous report that came out in August.
When the initial report was released, I had hoped that it would be a wake up call to the Obama administration, moving them on a path towards more responsible oversight of gas drilling. While some positive steps have been taken to protect our air, land and water from the impacts of drilling, it’s clear from this new report that we still have a long way to go.