Stiffen Emissions Rules For Gas, Oil Industries

Editor, News-Register:

I am writing in response to the article on the proposed ethylene cracker plant which discusses the impacts of economics on the region.

One only need to look to the rural areas of states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania where extraction of fossil fuels has taken place for many years to learn the lesson of economic boom, then bust.

While the cracker plant may bring about a short term boom in the economy, what we need to be concerned about are the known long term health effects of the emissions released into the air.

States like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado and Texas have for many years had to deal with the horrifying health issues created by the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) spewed into the air from these cracker facilities. The VOCs include chemicals such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and mixed xylenes which are known cancer-causing agents.

Other concerns from VOCs include respiratory issues, eye and skin irritation, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

Those at greatest risk are those with preexisting pulmonary disease, children due to their more rapid breathing rate and developing lungs and immune systems, and pregnant women because of an increases risk of pre-term labor and delivery of a low birth weight infant.

The Federal Clean Air Act is a comprehensive law that regulates air pollution and sets standards for cars, factories and other sources of air pollution.

Unfortunately, the gas and oil industry is exempt from the law’s requirement that the emissions of multiple related small sources under common ownership be aggregated to determine total emissions. As a result, wells and related facilities do not have to meet the same air quality standards for emissions of hazardous air pollution (including volatile organic compounds, smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and carcinogens) that other major sources of these dangerous pollutants must meet, even if they are closely sited and if their cumulative emissions are significant.

There is currently a legislation known as the BREATHE Act (H.R. 1154) which would close the loopholes in the CAA.

Until the gas and oil industry is held to the same standards as all other industries we cannot allow facilities of this type to contaminate our communities for the sake of corporate greed. The cost to human health and safety is too high.

Donna Carver, board member

Buckeye Forest Council