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Published on Friday, September 14, 2018

EPA Proposal a Setback for Healthy Lungs and Healthy Air

CONTACT: Ana Sandoval, 210-722-6144
ana.sandoval@sanantonio.gov

 

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 14, 2018) —This week the EPA announced a proposal to scale back the 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Gas Industry. The following is Councilwoman Sandoval’s statement:

 

“This proposal undoes years of work by thousands of stakeholders nationwide. These Standards were designed to reduce smog-forming pollution, cancer-causing pollution, and climate-change causing pollution in the same stroke. By requiring checking for gas leaks, these regulations would also have protected the health of industry workers exposed to these harmful chemicals.

 

With the proliferation of fracking in the Eagle Ford Shale just outside of San Antonio, these rules were poised to protect Texas workers and the lungs of San Antonio residents. The San Antonio area currently does not meet health based air quality standards for ozone, or smog. It is no coincidence that we also have some of the highest rates of childhood asthma. 

 

While some local leaders have claimed for years that air quality is ‘improving on its own. I do not believe that’s true. Air quality improves when we make concerted efforts to reduce pollution, efforts like enforcing these national standards. Any rollbacks of federal air quality regulations are a blow to public health and place a greater burden on local entities striving to improve air quality.”

 

When extracted, natural gas, or methane, comes with other ozone-forming and cancer-causing pollutants like volatile organic compounds, benzene and other air toxics.

 

Bexar County has been designated as marginal non-attainment for the ozone national air quality standard by the Environmental Protection Agency and has until 2020 to achieve air quality standards. Ozone is associated with a number of adverse health effects including reduced lung function, asthma attacks, asthma development, emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and early death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes.  The City of San Antonio is currently developing an air quality attainment strategy led by Metro Health Director, Dr. Colleen Bridger.

 

The City of San Antonio is currently developing a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to reduce the community’s and municipality’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for anticipated local impacts of climate change, such as extreme heat, flooding, and increases in vector borne illnesses. More information can be found at: http://saclimateready.org/

 

This past June, the Journal of Science published a study indicating that the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry methane emissions are 60% higher than that estimated by the U.S. EPA. Methane is a greenhouse gas, or climate change pollutant, estimated to be between 20 and 80 times more potent that carbon dioxide.

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