EPA Hears 108 Speakers at Pittsburgh Session on Proposed New Air Quality Rules for Natural Gas Industry

by Duane Nichols on September 29, 2011

People living near Marcellus gas wells as well as various environmental organizations called for fast adoption of strong, health-protective, air pollution emissions standards for oil and gas well drilling operations at a daylong U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing in Pittsburgh on September 27th.

All but a dozen of the 108 speakers who signed up to speak at the hearing in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, voiced support for the new regulations.  It is proposed to use proven technology and existing best practices to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by 95 percent from fracking with high pressure water with various chemicals and 25 percent industry wide. The proposed rules would also reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by 3.4 million tons and air toxics, such as benzene, a human carcinogen, by 38,000 tons, or almost 30 percent.

Among the speakers were Janet McIntyre, a resident of rural Butler County, Deborah Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Natural Gas Reform Campaign, David McCabe, an atmospheric scientist with the Clean Air Task Force, Nadia Steinzor of Earthworks,  and Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health for the American Lung Association.

Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group representing more than 250 companies operating in the Marcellus Shale play, emphasized the energy production and environmental benefits of cleaner-burning natural gas. She also questioned the economic benefits the EPA’s proposals would have on the industry.  Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, said the EPA proposals are a “reasonable start” but would require some changes to make them workable. He suggested that the final rules be delayed for a full year.


The Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project has information available –- talking points/fact sheet.  The WV-Surface Owners Rights Organizations has prepared the following response: (1) This is a good first step, (2)  the oil & gas industry should comply with the same clean air standards as other industries, and (3) the public health needs to be protected from drilling toxics like benzene and other carcinogens. The EPA must finalize the rules, mandated by a court-ordered consent decree, by February 28, 2012.

More Information:  EPA web page about the proposed rules, and the Earthworks fact sheet and talking points

Where and How to Submit Written Comments:
Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID Number EPA–HQ–OAR–2010–0505, by one of the following methods:

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