Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, November 22, 2019
In August, President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency proposed to eliminate EPA’s methane rules. This dangerous move will roll back critical federal oversight of the nation’s 900,000+ oil and gas wells, more than 58,000 of which can be found in Ohio, and will dramatically increase methane pollution, a harmful driver of climate change.
The U.S. EPA is collecting comments on the proposed changes through Monday, Nov. 25.
“Methane pollution has been linked to a quarter of all human-made climate change, and if we don’t act now to limit emissions, it will limit our ability to mitigate the effects of climate change and its harmful impacts on our most vulnerable communities,” said Miranda Leppla, vice president of energy policy for the Ohio Environmental Council.
The nation’s oil and gas industry releases over 13 million metric tons of methane pollution annually, and the problem is only likely to get worse as drilling continues to expand.
Ohio’s natural gas development has grown every quarter since 2013 and the state is part of a region that is expected to supply nearly half of the country’s natural gas by 2040. With the increase in energy development in the state comes an increased risk for more methane leaks and emissions. This could have an adverse impact on the more than 3 million Ohioans who live within a half-mile of an oil or gas site.
According to the EPA, in addition to climate effects, methane leaks from the oil and gas industry pose health risks to surrounding communities. When methane escapes from the oil and gas sector, it comes with other hitchhiker air pollutants like benzene, hydrogen sulfide, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene. These ozone-forming pollutants can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks, aggravate respiratory conditions, and also, increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
At the Impact Ohio Southeast Regional Conference this earlier this month, Ohio EPA Southeast District Chief Craig Butler shared that while the U.S. EPA is rolling back requirements, Ohio has one of the strongest regulatory structures around methane pollution. He said, “We need to be more aggressive frankly because… the new extraction industry is something that if we don’t get it right then all of us will suffer.”
The Ohio EPA is not the only entity to call for stricter regulations. Top corporations BP, ExxonMobil and Shell have also publicly come out in support of federal methane regulations and have spoken out against the proposed rollbacks.
“Now is the chance to tell the Trump Administration and the U.S. EPA to put the health and safety of Americans first and maintain federal methane emissions protections,” said Leppla.
Comments can be made at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0757-0002.