The EPA this week held public hearings on a proposal to ratchet up protection for public health and welfare in the face of oil and gas drilling. In Pittsburgh, Denver, and today in Dallas, the message was resounding: The EPA’s rules promise less air pollution, greater savings for industry, and increased scrutiny on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking.
It’s good news given that every year, 25,000 oil and gas wells are fracked, leading to huge amounts of toxic air pollution. Even in cities like Denver and Dallas, oil and gas drilling releases more smog forming compounds than cars and trucks. And in rural communities like Pinedale, Wyoming, oil and gas drilling is fueling smog levels higher than Los Angeles.
Even industry commented that it wasn’t opposed to the EPA’s proposal. That’s a welcome change from the knee jerk opposition to any regulations normally espoused by organizations like the American Petroleum Institute.
And although industry is calling for an extension of the comment period and a delay in adopting the final rules, it’s wishful thinking. Under the terms of a consent decree with WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance, the EPA has to finalize the rules by the end of next February.
The delay is especially uncalled for given increasing signs that ramped up drilling is taking a tremendous toll on public health.
Earthjustice‘s billboard made the rounds in downtown Denver on Wednesday.