On January 10, 2023, member Kirk Panasuk gave testimony before EPA at a public hearing regarding their new proposed rulemaking to limit methane pollution across the country:
“Hello, my name is Kirk Panasuk. I appreciate this opportunity to share why strong federal methane rules are important. I live in Bainville, Montana, which is in the Bakken Oil Field. I know firsthand just how harmful methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is to our health and safety.
Some thirty years ago my neighbor Garth Harmon found me lying unconscious in my yard. Although I will never know the reason for this infliction, it was highly suspicioned that the cause was gases from a nearby oil well. There was another individual in the immediate area that also suffered from symptoms of methane poisoning.
People in the area are self-diagnosing themselves with an ailment called the “Bakken cough” — a cough credited to oil and gas activity in the area.
Let me share one paragraph from an article taken from the InForum newspaper of Fargo, North Dakota, written by Patrick Springer.
‘The researchers have determined that thousands of respiratory-related hospital visits — and many millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages — were caused by natural gas flared at oil wells in North Dakota’s Oil Patch.’
The same article suggested that researchers found thousands of respiratory-related hospital visits could have been avoided if North Dakota had met the state’s gas-capture goal.
What I found surprising is this research states that people living within sixty miles of an active oil well are affected by this.
“I am grateful that your agency is taking steps to address methane pollution from the oil and gas industry – including by ensuring regular inspections occur at all sites and maintaining strong requirements to use zero-emitting technologies – but there is more work to be done to ensure that we are confronting the climate crisis head-on, and protecting the health and safety of communities like mine.
“I am counting on EPA to do more to limit the wasteful and dangerous practice of routine flaring, to better address emissions from storage tanks, and to provide a clear pathway for participation in the Super Emitter Response Program. EPA must ensure that we can access data and technologies to help reduce methane and other pollutants in the areas where we live and work.”