NOTE: these comments were submitted before the EPA public hearing on hydraulic fracturing air pollution regulation in Denver on September 28th
My name is Bruce Baizel. I am Staff Attorney for Earthworks, a nonprofit organization that works with communities to reduce the impacts from mining and energy extraction. Our organization has worked on oil and gas issues for more than two decades and specifically on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for more than a decade.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide oral comment to you this morning. We have thousands of members throughout the Rocky Mountain states, in Texas and in the Marcellus shale region.
Many of our members are impacted by the currently unregulated emissions from oil and gas operations throughout those states.
So this proposed regulation providing a new source performance standard for Volatile Organic Compounds; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage is of great importance to our members.
Overall, we strongly support the draft rule as a significant first step in addressing emissions from upstream oil and gas operations.
Pittsburgh, PA, September 27th -- Today, hundreds of families and concerned citizens gathered at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh for the first of only three public hearings held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a proposed safeguard to reduce harmful air pollution from the extraction, transmission, and storage of oil and gas. These are also the first-ever federally proposed safeguards aimed at cutting harmful air pollution from hydraulic fracturing.
Such federal laws are critical because they provide consistent standards that -- through oversight and enforcement by the EPA and other agencies -- can help to ensure that all Americans nationwide have basic protection from significant risks to their health and environment. As the oil and gas industry rapidly expands into new areas and uses new technologies to develop unconventional sources of fossil fuels, current standards and practices haven't kept pace and revision is necessary.
Deborah lives in Fort Worth where industry claims the gas is dry so the emissions are less harmful.
Chesapeake began drilling near Deborah's home in April 2010. She reported egregious odors to the Texas Commision on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) hotline but the response time was unsatisfactory.
The following compounds were detected on Deborah Rogers' property:
Yesterday, just before I left to speak at the Dallas Drilling Task Force public meeting, I received an email from the ABCAlliance. The contents of that email changed what I planned to say to the task force.
Here's what I said: I am Sharon Wilson. I live at XXX. I lived for sixteen years in Wise County where fracking the Barnett Shale was born. I worked in the oil and gas industry for twelve years. I now work for EARTHWORKS' Oil and Gas Accountability Project. I work with the people who are impacted by natural gas extraction.
How many of you have read Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety? [Shockingly, not many hands went up and my question was met with looks of bewilderment.] I hope all of you will read it because it documents what has happened to families and communities in the Barnett Shale. It includes letters of concern from scientists, doctors and toxicologists.
I planned to tell you some stories from Flowback. But just I received an email that changed my plan. I receive emails like this all the time. Here is What Happened Today in Argyle, Texas.
From the email:
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new air rules for oil and gas operations in an effort to reduce smog and toxic airborne pollution linked to oil and gas production, including the first-ever federal air rules for wells that are hydraulically fractured. These cost-effective regulations, including the use of green completions, will reduce air pollution caused by the drilling, processing and transmission of oil and gas while saving the industry nearly 30 million dollars per year.
The EPA s proposed plan will limit air emissions of benzene and other toxic chemicals as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) smog-forming pollutants which can cause asthma and premature death. Air toxics, including benzene, can cause cancer and other serious health problems. Communities across the country have long been experiencing significant health impacts from air pollution related to oil and gas production. In some parts of Wyoming, ozone pollution on some days has exceeded what Los Angeles experiences on its worst smog days.