MJ Eckhouse, August 13, 2020
Washington, DC — Today, the Trump administration finalized its rule change eliminating methane protections from the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards. These standards were enacted under the Obama administration to set methane emissions limits and require regular leak detection and repair for new and modified oil and gas sites across the country. The standards also triggered a requirement under the Clean Air Act to regulate more than 850,000 existing oil and gas facilities across the nation.
The move comes while global methane levels have reached an all-time high. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with more than 80 times a higher warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Pollution emitted alongside methane, such as benzene, poses harmful health effects to exposed communities, including worsening asthma, increasing the risk of cancer, immune system damage, as well as neurological, reproductive, and developmental problems.
Over 3 million Ohioans live within a half-mile of an oil and gas site and are vulnerable to these pollutants. As COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities, the last thing people need is the elimination of pollution protections that keep them safe. This rollback flies in the face of overwhelming support among the public—and even big oil and gas companies like BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell—for strong federal rules to curb methane pollution from oil and gas development.
The following quote can be attributed to Miranda Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council:
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a duty to protect public health and safety by holding the oil and gas industry accountable for polluting our air and fueling climate change. Instead of upholding this obligation, U.S. EPA Administrator Wheeler and President Trump have once again turned their backs on our communities by eliminating protections against methane pollution and putting our health and safety at risk.
“The pandemic reminds us that we must create a world that safeguards people’s health and reduces threats from harmful air pollution. The Trump administration shouldn’t respond to one health crisis by worsening another, but that’s what they’ve done by suspending EPA environmental oversight of methane pollution.
“In the absence of federal leadership, our state leaders must step up to the plate to hold oil and gas companies accountable for curbing dangerous methane pollution.”