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Attend the public hearings on fracking-related air pollution

For the past year I have been travelling the country exposing otherwise invisible air pollution from fracking and fracking-related development. In 2014, Earthworks was able to buy a FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) Gasfinder 320 camera thanks to the generous support of our members and donors. This camera is the gold-standard of oil and gas pollution detection. Industry and government alike use the same model camera and have the same certification I do to operate it. The camera detects methane and about 20 different volatile organic compounds that are health-harming and climate polluting.

Communities across the country have welcomed me into their homes to help finally see the pollution they have known was there for years, if not decades. The reason this is so important is that seeing pollution is proven to catalyze action that will protect communities. These videos, along side the powerful stories of impacted community members are the best way I can see to protect our children, families and neighbors from fracking related air pollution.

But it all starts with our stories. Stories that all too often get locked up in non-disclosure agreements for fear of retaliation from neighbors. Stories that demonstrate the connection between air pollution and our health. These are the stories that we need to tell the BLM at their public hearings next week where they will decide how to regulate air pollution from oil and gas development on public lands.

I know the pollution is widespread. I’ve seen in on every trip I’ve taken, from California, to Colorado to Pennsylvania. And the impacts are the same. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 87 times worse for climate than carbon dioxide. Natural gas extraction also brings up health-harming pollutants like benzene, a known carcinogen. I should also mention that it is wasting what would otherwise be a source of revenue for taxpayers. One estimate shows that taxpayers will miss out on $800 million in revenue over the next decade as the result of venting and flaring, which doesn’t even address the many leaks.

So we need a strong rule to limit this pollution, protect our health and climate, and our wallets. The BLM, under its existing authority, is charged with preventing the waste of natural resources on public lands. This proposed rulemaking would strengthen their ability to ensure that companies aren’t wasting taxpayer resources.

But we need to demand more. We’re calling on the BLM to:

  • Require quarterly inspections to prevent leaks and strong enforcement across the board;
  • Ensure operators are using the best technologies such as pumps and controls that prevent most or all loss of methane; and
  • Toughen efforts to cut flaring by increasing limits and tightening exemptions.
  • Increase the enforcement and reporting of oil and gas development on public lands to ensure waste is being minimized.

I hope that you will consider attending a hearing near you:

Date: February 16, 2016
Time: 1 p.m. 
Location: San Juan College, Room 7103, 
4601 College Blvd.
Farmington, NM  87402

Date: February 18, 2016*
Time: 1 p.m. 
Location: Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel
10 North Broadway Ave.,
Oklahoma City, OK  73102 

Date: March 1, 2016
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Holiday Inn Denver Lakewood
7390 West Hampden
Lakewood, CO  80227

Date: March 3, 2016
Time: 1 p.m.
Location:  Astoria Hotel and Event Center
363 15th Street W.
Dickinson, ND  58601

*There will be a free shuttle from the DFW area to the Oklahoma City, OK hearing. If you are interested, please contact Hilary Lewis at info [at] earthworks.org. 

If you have any questions or would like help with your testimony please contact Hilary Lewis at info [at] earthworks.org. Earthworks representatives will be at all of the hearings.