Over 375,000 Americans Voice Clear Support for Federal Limits on Dangerous Methane Pollution Leaking From Thousands of New U.S. Oil and Gas Operations

August 9, 2017
Shira Langer, 202 572 3254, slanger@edf.org


(Washington D.C.)— Today, over 375,000 Americans voiced their clear support for existing federal limits on dangerous methane pollution and their opposition to any delay of those limits.

The hundreds of thousands of comments were submitted over several weeks after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump Administration began taking steps to develop rules requiring a two year delay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Source Pollution Standards for detecting and repairing methane leaks from new and modified oil and gas operations.  The EPA leak detection and repair requirements apply to all new wells since September of 2015, which now number at least 20,000 … and growing. 

“Scott Pruitt has been trying every trick in the book to delay common-sense methane pollution protections that require oil and gas companies to detect and plug methane leaks from their operations,” said Felice Stadler, senior campaigns director at the Environmental Defense Fund.  “Pruitt’s actions reveal that he’s continuing his legacy of siding with the worst actors in the oil and gas industry at the expense of public health. His actions are reckless, and ignore the well-documented threat these leaks pose to American communities.”    

The groups point out that the health threat from methane pollution leaks is growing significantly with an average of more than 1,000 new wells a month having been built or updated.  Federal courts are recognizing the imminent threat.   On July 31 of this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ full 11 judge panel, by a 9-2 vote, issued a final decision overturning EPA’s first attempt to stay the standards.  EPA now must fully implement the Obama era methane pollution protections until replacement rules have been proposed and finalized. 

Attorneys General from 13 states, the state of Colorado, the District of Columbia and the City of Chicago also submitted comments echoing the strong legal foundation for methane limits and the lack of EPA authority for delaying the current Methane NSPS.

“These common sense protections were developed through rigorous public involvement, including solicitation of public input, and incorporation of industry comments and concerns,” said Ann Weeks, Legal Director of the Clean Air Task Force which represented groups in the case.   “The 2016 Rule is informed by successful state policy efforts in Colorado and other western states.”  

There is broad support for these methane limits with several polls showing strong majorities of Americans who want to continue EPA’s NSPS methane limits.  In addition to polling and the 375,000 comments submitted by Americans from around the country, 150+ national, state and local public interest organizations yesterday signed and released a letter opposing EPA’s proposed two-year stay.   In the letter, the groups said the proposed EPA delay is  “unauthorized, unwarranted, and would be particularly harmful to people, especially children, who live near oil and gas development across the country.” 

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