Washington, DC – Today, 130 local, state and national organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter to President Obama urging him to immediately begin a rulemaking process to curb methane pollution from oil and gas development, the nation’s second largest industrial climate polluter after power plants. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time period.
“Without methane rules, the President’s climate strategy actually aggravates global warming,” said Dr. Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University. “But even with regulation, we must rapidly transition to exclusive reliance on renewable energy sources and conservation. No amount of oversight can make fossil fuels safe for the climate.”
In addition to methane, smog-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as benzene and xylene are also released throughout the oil and gas development process. Directly regulating methane from oil and gas development will help capture the harmful VOCs and HAPs, both forms of pollution that trigger asthma attacks, aggravate respiratory conditions like bronchitis, and contain known carcinogens.
“Drilling for oil and gas is a dirty process, and if you lived where I lived, you would know that,” said Rebecca Roter with Breathe Easy Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania. “Communities living with the fracking industry in their backyards need help – we need President Obama and the EPA to make this industry clean up its act.”
“Here in Texas, there are oil and gas facilities spewing air pollution near our homes, our schools, even our hospitals,” said Maile Bush, a Denton, Texas resident who lives less than 450 feet from a shale gas well. She continued, “No one should have to live like this. Hopefully President Obama and the EPA agree.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority under the Clean Air Act to develop methane regulations for the oil and gas sector. In addition, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has the authority to control methane emissions from the waste of natural gas on our nation’s public lands.