The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in support of a proposed delay in the enforcement of the air pollution Final Rule titled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector:
Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources,” despite the decision’s possible toxic effects on children.
The air pollution rule would have tightened up standards regarding the leaks caused by oil and gas companies, requiring them to “monitor and plug any leaks from well sites and compressor stations” according to The Guardian. The rule was originally published in the Federal Register on June 3, 2016.
In its announcement proposing the rule delay, the EPA acknowledged that it “believes that the environmental health or safety risk addressed by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children,” but it claimed that any harmful effects on children would only last for a “limited time.”
“Any impacts on children’s health caused by the delay in the rule will be limited, because the length of the proposed stay is limited,” the EPA explained. “The agency therefore believes it is more appropriate to consider the impact on children’s health in the context of any substantive changes proposed as part of reconsideration.”
The lead attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund is strongly opposing the stay. “It is unconscionable that this unprecedented loophole for oil and gas pollution will increase dangerous smog, methane, and cancer-causing benzene when common sense solutions are at hand,” said the attorney. “Every day that these clean air safeguards are delayed, thousands of oil and gas wells across the country will emit dangerous pollution in the air, harming the health of our children.”
Benzene is a known cause of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), and has been linked to Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia. The most common pathway for harmful benzene exposure is through inhalation, but the chemical can also easily be absorbed through the skin.