Common Dreams NewsCenter

We Can't Do It Without You!
 

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

Home > Progressive Community > NewsWire > For Immediate Release
   
Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
   
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER): EPA Relaxes Air Pollution Rules For Oil Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2007
12:21 PM

CONTACT:  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Bill MacClarence (907) 346-1349;
Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

 
EPA Relaxes Air Pollution Rules For Oil Industry
Agency Rejects Petition for Controls on North Slope and Extends Ruling Nationally
 

WASHINGTON - In a major victory for the oil industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted looser air pollution limits for sprawling petroleum production and exploration operations, according to an agency order released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, petroleum facilities will be allowed to emit additional tons of hydrocarbons each day.

At issue is a regulatory rule called "aggregation" which prevents polluters from avoiding air pollution permit limits by breaking their operations down into smaller units, each with its own pollution cap

In an order signed April 20, 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson rejected a petition filed by PEER and a former Alaska state environmental engineer, Bill MacClarence, demanding that EPA veto a permit issued by the state of Alaska in 2003 for facilities at a massive British Petroleum complex on the North Slope. Contrary to previous EPA guidance, this new facility was classified as a stand-alone operation and not included within or aggregated into its existing permit.

"The North Slope currently produces as much as a fifth of the nation's oil supply, so the volume of pollution released is immense," stated Bill MacClarence, who had protested the permit both when he served as the supervisor of its air permit program for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and after he retired. "North Slope oil operations are already emitting as much nitrogen oxides as the entire Washington, DC metropolitan area and it is going to get a lot worse."

In an action that presaged its decision on the PEER petition, on January 12, 2007, EPA issued new national guidance that forbade applying aggregation principles to reduce pollution at oil facilities that are physically separated even though operationally linked. Oil and gas developments typically consist of many pieces of equipment, sometimes thousands in big developments, often connected by pipelines. This new guidance means that oil companies can treat equipment clusters as separate facilities, each with its own pollution allowances. The guidance directive was signed by William Wehrum, whose nomination to be EPA Assistant Administrator for Air was recently withdrawn by President Bush.

"Besides the negative public health effects, the last best places in our country will soon become as smog-choked as our big cities," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the rapid proliferation of oil and gas drilling in the Rocky Mountains and offshore. "This case was also a golden opportunity for the Bush administration to take its first baby steps to stop venting gases that contribute to global warming."

MacClarence, a 20-year environmental engineer, had persuaded the State of Alaska to require aggregation in the BP permit, but under intense lobbying from the Alaska Oil & Gas Association, the state reversed its stand in July 2003. Initially, EPA echoed those concerns but eventually also reversed its position. In the order, EPA Administrator Johnson denied that his agency "altered its position on aggregation ...because of aggressive lobbying by the Alaska oil and gas industry…" but admitted that "EPA did meet with the applicant, at the applicant's request, on two occasions to discuss aggregation…"

###

See the EPA order favoring BP

Read the PEER petition

Look at the new EPA guidance forbidding aggregation

###

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
Read our Guidelines for Submitting News Releases

CommonDreams.org is an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997.
We are a nonprofit, progressive, independent and nonpartisan organization.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.


www.commondreams.org