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EPA should maintain existing methane rules

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Dear Editor:

Once again, the Trump administration is moving to put the profits of polluters before public health and the well-being of future generations. Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- which under this administration is anything but -- held its one and only hearing on a Trump administration proposal to gut sensible, effective and widely-supported protections from methane pollution caused by oil and gas development. The majority who spoke gave testimony in favor of maintaining the existing rule and opposed the Trump roll-back, according to media reports. And although this is the EPA's only hearing, the public can still provide comment until Dec. 17 and urge that these important protections be kept in place.

Despite the clear benefits of, and broad support for, the existing methane rules, the acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler -- a former coal lobbyist and fossil fuel lawyer -- is seeking to gut them, and to give a pass to fracked-gas and oil companies fouling up America's air. Pollution from oil and gas operations pose a significant public health risk. Especially vulnerable are those that live, attend school, or work near these facilities, children, and those with compromised systems. Methane pollution, including that from oil and gas operations, is also a super-potent greenhouse gas and a major driver of climate change. Rolling back the EPA's current pollution standards would be reckless and take us backwards.

The existing EPA methane standards are common-sense, cost-effective, and feasible pollution controls. The standards that are in place right now will reduce emissions from over 35,000 oil and gas wells across America with an annual reduction of more than 21,000 tons of methane and 450,000 pounds of toxic air pollutants. States around the country, including Colorado, have shown that methane pollution rules do not harm industry. But rolling back these protections would harm all of us. We can and need to act now on climate change, and to demand that oil and gas companies cut their pollution. Tell EPA to keep the existing methane rule in place.

Pete Kolbenschlag


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