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PSR Meets with EPA on Methane Leakage

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on December 3, 2015

Barb Gottlieb with PSR intern Kolin Kearns

PSR staff hand-delivered to EPA staff the comments of over 2,000 PSR members, expressing support for proposed rules to stem the leakage of methane and toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and gas wells.

2,332 PSR members signed onto the comments, which conveyed support for the proposed rule while calling on EPA to tighten those protections. The in-person delivery was part of an effort in which almost 20 organizations gathered over 700,000 signatures.

After the delivery of the signed comments, Barbara Gottlieb, PSR Director for Environment & Health, joined experts from five other organizations in a face-to-face meeting with Janet McCabe, a leading EPA official, to further express support and concerns for health and the environment. 

In that meeting, McCabe, the Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, voiced appreciation for the large outpouring of comments, saying, "Who would have thought that issues of oil and gas would get so much attention from the American public?"

She called the oil and gas industry "challenging" to regulate and noted, "We have to proceed in a stepwise way."

Methane is a greenhouse gas that, over its first 20 years in the atmosphere, is 86 times more potent a heat-trapper than carbon dioxide. This makes methane leakage from gas and oil wells, especially those that utilize hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a conspicuous driver of climate change and negates the value of switching from coal-fired power plants to ones that burn natural gas.

VOCs also leak alongside the methane throughout the extraction, processing, and shipment of oil and gas.

The proposed EPA rule applies only to new sources – that is, wells that have not yet been dug or that undergo significant modification.  PSR is calling on the EPA to strengthen its controls on new sources and to develop comparable rules for existing wells, as well as for pipelines and compressor stations.

Comments

Barbara Gottlieb said ..

Wow thank you all for the strong concern - and high level of knowledge - about methane! I wish I could respond to each of you individually. Just a few quick points: Yes we need to stop methane leaks from all sources. Fracking is a huge problem. We'll be addressing methane from meat production in the new year - stay tuned! The big solution is to move beyond fossil fuels. Solar and wind don't leak methane or VOCs, they don't spill or explode or contaminate groundwater. We can create a much better future!

December 15, 2015
David Leithauser said ..

Methane is an extremely dangerous gas. We need to stop it from ALL sources.

December 15, 2015
Heather Andersen said ..

Now you're "cookin'" PSR! Thanks for taking a stand for our human and environmental health.

December 15, 2015
Wallace Iimura said ..

The methane that is recovered does have value especially when the value is accumulated over a number of years.

December 15, 2015
Kathleen Eaton said ..

Methane must be controlled. It's potentially a greater hazard to our environment than carbon.

December 14, 2015
Judith Mitchell said ..

Administrator McCabe -- please make those "stepwise" regulations into GIANT STEPS before we all gag and choke to death because the oil and gas industry was too "challenging."

December 14, 2015
Janet Chase said ..

This is an issue that needs to be addressed. When satalite images over New Mexico and Colorado show a major methane cloud the evidence cannot be denied. This is of great concern because all of the plants, animals and humans need that air for life and those lives are being damaged. A solution must be found soon.

December 14, 2015
Cheryl Liniman said ..

This is a "no-brainer." Methan gas is dangerous. We need to stop corporations from killing us.

December 14, 2015
diane libman said ..

Methane is destroying the earth. I don't know where you and your children and grandchildren live, but I live on earth. Protect me. Protect us all.

December 14, 2015
Barbara schlitz said ..

leakage of methane and toxic compounds from oil and gas wells must be stopped. My grandchildren are counting on this.

December 14, 2015
ken canty said ..

Please enact proposed regulations that strengthen controls on methane leakage from new and existing gas and oil wells, pipelines and compressor stations.

December 14, 2015
David J Damstrom said ..

what about methane from Big Ag livestock production - cows, pigs, poultry - and which like the ethanol industry is driven by profit and growth rather than a desire to promote a healthy biosphere

December 14, 2015
Alaya Bouche' said ..

I am in WA. the crap from the dairy farms is leaking into our water and I got niacin poisoning from drinking the water (ran out of good water 2 days before payday) This is also needing to be addressed!

December 14, 2015
Kay Randall said ..

Methane traps 86 times more heat than methane in our atmosphere. This makes methane leakage from gas and oil wells, especially fracking wells a significant factor in climate change which negates the value of switching from coal fired plants to ones that burn natural gas. Further, methane leaks throughout the extraction, processing and shipment of oil and gas. The proposed rules apply to only new sources---wells that have not been dug or that undergo significant modification. I am calling upon the EPA to strengthen its controls on new sources and to develop comparable rules for existing wells, as well as, for pipelines and compressor stations.

December 14, 2015
William Heiland said ..

The Fracking Industry must be held accountable for the methane leads at their drill sites, pumping stations and pipelines. One would think that they would do all they could to prevent the loss of product.

December 14, 2015
John Comella said ..

Methane leaks A LOT. We need to prevent that or not use methane at all.

December 14, 2015
Donald Morrison said ..

Do not lift the ban on crude oil export ban.

December 14, 2015
Anonymous said ..

We do not "have to proceed in a stepwise way"! We must end our dependence on fossil fuels (oil, gas, nuclear) and switch to geothermal, solar and tidal energy generation as quickly as possible!

December 14, 2015

Comments closed.