PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO AIR REGULATIONS FOR THE OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY
OVERVIEW OF ACTION
On July 28, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a suite of highly cost-effective regulations that would reduce harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry while allowing continued, responsible growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production.
The proposal is based on proven technology and best practices that the oil and gas industry is using in some states today. It includes the first federal air standards for wells that are hydraulically fractured, along with requirements for several other sources of pollution in the oil and gas industry that currently are not regulated at the federal level.
Today’s proposal includes four air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry: a new source performance standard for VOCs; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.
The proposal would cut smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by nearly one-fourth across the oil and gas industry, including a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted from new and modified hydraulically fractured gas wells. This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through use of a proven technology to capture natural gas that currently escapes to the air. That gas would then be made available for sale.
The estimated revenues from selling the gas that currently goes to waste are significant – so much so that today’s proposed rule is anticipated to quickly result in a net savings of nearly $30 million annually, while significantly reducing pollution from this expanding industry.
The VOC emission reductions from wells, combined with reductions from storage tanks and other equipment, are expected to help reduce ozone levels in areas where oil and gas production occurs. In addition, the reductions would yield a significant environmental co-benefit by reducing methane emissions from new and modified wells. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas – more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Oil and natural gas production and processing accounts for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, making the industry the nation’s single largest methane source.
The proposed changes also would reduce cancer risks from emissions of several air toxics such as benzene.
EPA estimates the following combined annual emission reductions when the proposed amendments are fully implemented:
o VOCs: 540,000 tons, an industry-wide reduction of 25 percent
o Methane – 3.4 million tons, which is equal to 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a reduction of about 26 percent.
o Air Toxics –38,000 tons, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
The proposed rules would apply to the more than 25,000 wells that are fractured and refractured each year, as well as to storage tanks and other pieces of equipment. As part of today’s proposal, EPA is seeking comment on several steps to reduce the compliance burdens of the rule to industry and to state, local and tribal air agencies.
Today’s proposal continues EPA’s efforts to support responsible oil and natural gas exploration and production that protects public health and the environment.
In June, the Agency signed a memorandum of understanding with the departments of Interior and Agriculture establishing a common process for the agencies to follow in analyzing the potential air quality impacts of proposed oil and gas activities on federally managed public lands. The collaborative approach in the agreement will provide increased certainty, clarity and transparency about requirements on public lands.
EPA will accept public comment on the proposed amendments for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Information on submitting written comments is included at the end of this fact sheet. The Agency also will hold three public hearings on the proposals in the Dallas, Denver, and Pittsburgh areas. Additional information on the hearings will be announced in a separate notice.
On July 20th 2011, we wrote an article titled: 'Children Forced to Breathe Toxic Chemical Emissions From Gas Wells?' It's not enough to say that serious oversight and complacency had taken place by drilling active Oil & Gas wells within close proximity of Elementary Schools. Was it complacency, or was it simply that the industry was too drunk on Oil & Gas and drilled wherever, whenever and on top of whomever they desired with no scientifically effective oversight or Federal regulations in place to protect groundwater and humanity?
It is our opinion that the industry will seek forgiveness at a later date and be subject to numerous class-action lawsuits that will be shadowed in cost comparison as to what was reaped in monetary gains from the unregulated practices in the Oil & Gas Industry. We don't think that's fair and just.
The children of the future will look back on us and say: "Who the hell allowed this to happen?"
Was this cost/benefit, (aka -death/benefit) part of their business plan? Sure it was, and Cheney was the conductor in this 'Symphony of Destruction.'