Submit a comment to the EPA on methane rollbacks

Please submit a comment letter regarding the EPA’s methane rollbacks by December 17, 2018. Feel free to personalize your letter in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Thanks! (More information on this issue found  below the comment form.)

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MORE INFORMATION

Comment Deadline: December 17, 2018

Are you worried about our changing climate? Methane traps heat in our atmosphere at a rate twenty-five times that of carbon dioxide. By the EPA’s own analysis, the oil and gas industry is one of the largest industrial emitters of methane. Methane leaks develop at oil and gas wellheads, field separators, settling tanks, pipelines, and processing plants. Such leaks can readily be prevented.

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved to take action on methane pollution, and created new standards for curbing leaks. As the EPA put it then, “there is ample evidence that [the oil and gas industry] as a whole contributes significantly to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.”

How, exactly? More methane means a faster changing climate, which in turn “increases the likelihood of heat waves, which are associated with increased deaths and illnesses.” Climate change also increases “infectious and waterborne diseases, and stress-related disorders.” Meanwhile, oil and gas drilling also releases volatile organic compounds like benzene which, in the EPA’s own words, “can lead to a variety of health concerns such as cancer and non-cancer illnesses.”

Now, though, the EPA is dismantling those limits on methane pollution—despite its own analysis showing that weakening these protections will result in substantial additional methane and volatile organic compound pollution.

Among other things, EPA’s current proposal would:

  • Lower the frequency of leak inspections from every six months to just once a year for most wells
  • Double the amount of time companies have to repair a methane leak (60 days instead of 30)
  • Eliminate requirements for third-party validation of leak detection and repair efforts

The EPA’s 2016 methane protections have been in place and working for more than two years. Many companies have spent time and money implementing them already. But we don’t have access to the compliance data that the agency has collected during that time—nor is there any indication that the EPA has considered that data in undoing their rules.

Northern Plains Resource Council believes in sound science. We’re committed to climate action. We’re fighting to eliminate methane pollution for our communities, and for the health of our climate. Join our fight today.

 Contact Caitlin at caitlin@northernplains.org with questions or for more information.