Recent news from Channel 13, December, 2016
Ozone Standards Implementation Act, H.R. 4775, S. 2882
CURED submitted the following comments on June 2, 2016
Dear Representatives Barrasso, Enzi and Lummis,
Our non-profit group is based in Pinedale, Wyoming. We have experienced firsthand, ozone exceedances in our county. Though we have had several years without exceedances, we know that this is a function of less drilling, and mild winters.
On behalf of our members, CURED urges you to oppose the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act” (H.R. 4775, S. 2882). The innocuous-sounding name is misleading: this legislation would actually systematically weaken the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, eliminate Americans’ 46-year right to healthy air based on medical science, and delay life-saving health standards already years overdue.
This bill’s vision of “Ozone Standards Implementation” eliminates health benefits and the right to truly safe air that Americans enjoy under today’s law. First, the legislation would delay for eight years the right to safer air quality, and even the simple right to know if the air is safe to breathe. Corporations applying for air pollution permits would be free to ignore new ground- level ozone (aka smog) health standards during these additional eight years. For the first time the largest sources of air pollution would be allowed to exceed health standards. The bill would also outright excuse the parts of the country suffering the worst smog pollution from having backup plans if they do not reduce pollution. The most polluted parts of the country should not stop doing everything they can to protect their citizens’ health and environment by cleaning up smog pollution.
This bill is not content to merely weaken and delay reductions in smog pollution. It also strikes at our core right to clean air based on health and medical science. The medically-based health standards that the law has been founded on for 46 years instead would become a political football dictated by polluter compliance costs. This will mean unhealthy levels of smog and soot and sulfur dioxide and even toxic lead pollution. The bill would also double the law’s five-year review periods for recognizing the latest science and updating health standards, which are already frequently years late; this means in practice that unhealthy air would persist for longer than ten years.
The legislation also weakens implementation of current clean air health standards. The bill expands exemptions for “exceptional events” that are not counted towards compliance with health standards for air quality, even when air pollution levels are unsafe. This will mean more unsafe air more often, with no responsibility to clean it up. Requirements meant to ensure progress toward reducing smog and soot pollution would shift from focusing on public health and achievability to economic costs. Despite the bland name “Ozone Standards Implementation Act,” this bill represents an extreme attack on the most fundamental safeguards and rights in the Clean Air Act.
Since 1970, the Federal Clean Air Act has been organized around one governing principle—that the EPA must set health standards based on medical science for dangerous air pollution, including smog, soot and lead, that protect all Americans, with “an adequate margin of safety” for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly and asthmatics. This legislation eviscerates that principle and protection. We urge you to oppose H.R. 4775 and S. 2882, to protect our families and Americans’ rights to clean air.
Dottie Bentley, Chair
May, 2015 Victory for CURED:
Wyoming Environmental Quality Council approves a new rule to reduce pollution and improve air quality in the Upper Green River Basin.
Crumpley: Don’t let delay derail needed air pollution actions in Pinedale
By ELAINE CRUMPLEY Jul 19, 2014 Casper Star Tribune
The state has a new proposal to reduce air pollution from oil and gas production in the Upper Green River Basin and it’s pretty good. With some improvements these rules will finally start to reduce harmful pollution from existing oil and gas sources around Pinedale, a smog problem in our small community that has rivaled Los Angeles.
It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like the new rules should help protect the people of Sublette, Sweetwater and Lincoln counties from breathing unhealthy levels of ozone that can lead to lung damage and respiratory problems.
Why then is the state’s oil and gas lobbying group trying to delay these needed actions?
The state’s Air Quality Advisory Board recently delayed consideration of these new rules at the request of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. This delay could mean exposing the people of our community to more harmful air pollution or even trigger more onerous regulations coming down from the federal government.
It’s a shame that the Petroleum Association of Wyoming can’t see that smart, sensible regulations at the state level are what’s best for Wyoming and for the health of our citizens.
A lot of us who live and work here have been frustrated over the years because it’s taken the state so long to get a handle on this problem. And we’ve said as much. But in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, it looks like the state is now making some good progress. Now is not the time to throw a monkey wrench in that process.
I agree with PAW on one thing: Before these rules are made final, there should be a few improvements, to make sure we get these rules right. However, I actually believe these needed improvements are on the side of making them stronger, not watering them down and definitely not delaying what has already been a years long process getting to this point. I believe these improvements can be made within the department’s already established rulemaking process and without undue delay.
As drafted, the state’s rules are a good start but they don’t go as far as they needed to solve this problem once and for all. For instance, the state’s proposal for regular leak inspections of oil and gas equipment fails to require these inspections frequently enough for the vast majority of sources in the basin. This loophole would mean that almost 1,500 tons per year of harmful pollution would remain in our air. Not nearly good enough to protect our air and the health of our community.
And reducing this pollution further is very cost effective. We are talking hundreds of dollars a ton of pollution reduced, not thousands. That is because much of this pollution is actually methane gas, the main product of the natural gas industry. Less leaks means more molecules to sell – the very definition of a win-win situation. Fixing these leaks is a great investment in clean air and community health
In addition to requiring instrument-based leak inspections more often on smaller emission sources than it’s currently proposing, the state should also consider applying the new rules to compressor stations since, as the state’s own data shows, those stations can be big sources of the pollution that helps make ozone. And companies shouldn’t be allowed to remove combustors that control emissions from pumps and dehydrators. Once they are in place they should stay there.
The state has an opportunity here to show its leadership on a critical air quality issue. Solving the Pinedale problem will show that state government is the home of strong, smart rules, and once again put the state regulators in the driver’s seat, not EPA.
When the AQAB meets again on August 4 to consider these rules, tell them not to let industry delays create more pollution or more headaches with federal regulators. Tell them to get these rules right so the people of Pinedale can breathe easier.
Thanks to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and Governor Mead for getting this done.
Elaine Crumpley is a resident of Pinedale and a member of Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development (CURED).