The regulations would affect about 281 to 444 processing facilities, and would allow the agency to closely monitor chemicals released into the air. The chemicals include xylenes, linked to breathing problems, headaches and neurological issues; formaldehyde, a carcinogen that inflicts damage on the respiratory system; and benzene, which has been linked to blood diseases and cancers such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia.
The proposition was in response to a petition by 19 environmental groups, including the Environmental Integrity Project, a “watchdog” non-profit organization that advocates for environmental protection laws.
“This welcome step from EPA is long overdue,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, of the proposed regulations. “People deserve to know what toxic chemicals are being released near their homes, schools and hospitals. Yet, for too long, the oil and gas industry has been exempt from rules that apply to other industries. We will hold the next administration accountable for putting an end to that special treatment.”
Aaron Mintzes, Policy Advocate for Earthworks, agrees. “The oil and gas industry knows it’s polluting our neighborhoods. The EPA isn’t proposing to make them stop, just requiring these companies to let people know about toxic pollution released near their homes, schools, and workplaces. And while this rule would cover just natural gas processing plants, by the time they finalize this rule, EPA should also add the well heads, pipelines, compressor stations and other oil and gas infrastructure.”