Clean Air Act Digest, 4.20.12
On Tuesday, April 17, the Energy subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee voted 15 to 8 on party lines to pass a draft bill called the Gasoline Regulations Act, described by the committee as a legislative response to high gasoline prices. In fact, the Gasoline Regulations Act is yet another assault on the Clean Air Act’s protections for public health and the environment. For more information, see Clean Air Act Digest for Monday, April 16.
Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards/”Fracking” Standards
On Wednesday, April 18, EPA released final rules to reduce air pollution from the production, storage, and transmission of oil and natural gas. The rules include the first federal air pollution standards for hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells. Often called “fracking,” this process involves injecting a specially blended liquid at high pressure into a rock formation, creating fractures that allow more oil and gas to be extracted. The process produces a whoosh of air pollution when the liquid flows back – gases that can be captured and sold by companies instead of emitted into the air.
In EPA’s fact sheet summarizing the rules, the agency states that the final rules are expected to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to the formation of smog, from new hydraulically fractured wells. It will similarly reduce VOCs from existing wells that are refractured. The rule will also reduce air toxics and methane, a greenhouse gas many times as potent as carbon dioxide when emitted directly into the atmosphere.
For information on how this is an important step forward with more work to be done, see Meleah Geertsma’s blog and Miriam Rotkin-Ellman’s blog. For an update on how leading companies are already complying with the requirements in the new rule, see David Doniger’s blog.
Support EPA’s Proposal to Limit Industrial Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants:
The EPA’s proposed limits on industrial carbon pollution from new power plants are critical to protecting the health of our kids and families, sparking innovation in clean technologies and creating American jobs. Industrial carbon pollution spewing from power plants threatens our health. Carbon pollution fuels climate change that raises temperatures and makes smog pollution worse, which can trigger asthma attacks and permanently damage and reduce the function of children’s lungs. It’s no surprise the American people support the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s efforts to update and enforce clean air standards, including carbon and mercury emissions from power plants.
Tell the EPA that you support its efforts to protect our health with new standards to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants and urge the agency to move forward with carbon pollution standards for existing plants.
Help drive comment collection by crafting an action alert for your organization. The carbon pollution standard was published in the Federal Record on Friday, April 13, launching the official sixty-day comment period.
Current Action Alerts:
Fight for Starving Polar Bears, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund
Take Action: Help End Dirty Energy, Environmental Defense Fund Action Alert
Stop Industrial Carbon Pollution, Earthjustice Action Alert
EPA will hold public hearings on the recently proposed standards. Details on the timing and location for those hearings are not yet available. Stay tuned for updates.
Environmental Groups Praise EPA’s First-Ever Clean Air Protections for “Fracking”, Joint Press Release, 4.18.12
Natural Gas and Oil Production Standards will Protect Health and Reduce Toxic Air Pollution, American Lung Association Press Release, 4.18.12
EPA Issues Updated, Achievable Air Pollution Standards for Oil and Natural Gas, Environmental Protection Agency Press Release, 4.18.12
Strong Clean Air Standards For Natural Gas Leaks A Trifecta For America, Environmental Defense Fund Blog, 4.18.12
Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards, Environmental Protection Agency Webpage
Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, World Resources Institute and Pace Energy and Climate Center Paper, 4.16.12
Don’t forget the Clean Air Act fan page on Facebook.
Clean Air Act Digest is a publication put together by US Climate Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council. Please contact Lara Levison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Click here for past issues.