The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heard testimony in Dallas on Thursday about its plan to rollback rules for methane emissions. Methane is a major contributor to climate change.
The proposed rule would eliminate Obama-era regulations for oil and gas companies to detect and fix methane leaks at well pads, pipelines and other infrastructure.
Dale Tiberie is a retired coal miner who lives within 500 feet of a fracked well in Washington County, the most heavily fracked county in Pennsylvania with more than 1,800 deep shale gas wells. Tiberie traveled to Texas with the environmental group Earthworks to testify at the hearing.
“I feel that it’s important that everyone knows how the industry is affecting everyone’s health, the planet, and our children,” he said.
LISTEN: “Pennsylvanians Tell EPA, We Need More Controls on Methane, Not Less”
Tiberie said the odors make him nauseous, cause severe headaches, and give him persistent respiratory problems. Using an infrared camera, he said Earthworks found leaks of air pollution at the well pad closest to his home. He said that has been fixed, but he worries about leaks in other wells.
“We can’t let this happen,” Tiberie said.
Tiberie supports drilling, but he wants the government, both federal and state, to improve regulation of methane emissions, not eliminate it.
“They should tighten them up more,” he said. “They should do more policing and inspecting of these pads.”
Tiberie was among dozens of concerned citizens from around the country, including North Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Ohio, to comment at the public hearing, the only one scheduled by EPA on the methane rollbacks.
In a statement issued Thursday, the EPA said that the rule would “remove regulatory duplication” and save the oil and gas industry $17 to $19 million dollars every year “while maintaining health and environmental protection.”
The oil and gas industry’s annual revenue exceeds $100 billion annually.
Notably, energy companies like Shell, BP and Exxon still support the tighter controls. But the American Petroleum Institute testified that the industry is already doing enough to voluntarily cut emissions.
The EPA is accepting written comments from the public until November 25. The agency says it will review and consider all comments it receives in the development of the final rule.