When the air in Wyoming gets smoggier than the air in Los Angeles, you know something has gone wrong.
That "something" is the oil and gas industry.
In the drilling rig-studded Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming, levels of smog-forming ozone reached 123 parts per billion earlier this year—worse than the worst day in Los Angeles all last year.
It’s not just the people of Wyoming who are noticing a problem. A controversial technology called hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has led to a gas drilling boom from Colorado to Pennsylvania. But federal air pollution standards for drilling are woefully outdated and do not cover most pollution sources. That means that people who live near the gasfields are left with lung-burning smog and cancer-causing benzene.
But with your help, we can change that. Under a set of rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, oil and gas drillers would be required to use equipment to capture significant amounts of air pollution before it can harm public health.
Some extreme members of Congress have been making it hard for the scientists at the EPA to do their job lately. That’s why the EPA needs to hear from you, to let them know that no matter what the anti-science extremists say, the public supports strong air quality protections.
Send a message to the EPA today declaring your support for protecting our air from dangerous fracking pollutants.
I stand among many thousands of Americans who support this proposal.
There are numerous sensible controls for this industry that will protect public health and are particularly critical in light of the current oil and gas development boom.
These rules are an important first step. But more could be done.
In addition to reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing chemicals like benzene, your agency should limit emissions of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas that leads to global warming.
According to your agency's own figures, the oil and gas industry is responsible for nearly 40 percent of all methane emissions nationwide.
It is not sufficient to trust that pollution controls designed to capture volatile organic compounds will succeed in trapping methane. A more protective approach to controlling methane emissions should be taken.
Your agency should move to finalize and strengthen these rules without delay.