EPA

Fracking Giant Cabot Sues Pennsylvania Water Contamination Victim for $5 Million

Ray Kemble

Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation has filed a $5 million civil lawsuit in county court against Dimock, Pennsylvania, resident Ray Kemble, who claims Cabot severely contaminated his water after drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) activity.

The company, scrutinized in the film Gasland and subject of an ongoing federal class action lawsuit since 2009, has also sued a handful of lawyers representing Kemble. Cabot’s lawsuit claims that Kemble harmed the fracking giant by attempting to “attract media attention” over pollution to his water, which the company claims breached an earlier 2012 settlement agreement as part of the ongoing federal class action lawsuit.

This Is the Drilling Method for Most US Oil But Regulators Offer Almost No Oversight

Oil pump jacks drilling in California

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and offshore drilling garner a lot of news headlines when it comes to oil and gas issues in America, but they're far from the only game in town, with those two drilling techniques not even constituting the majority of U.S. oil and gas production.

For that, look to enhanced oil recovery (EOR), an under-regulated drilling method that has been around for over a century and could be threatening drinking water sources — if only regulators and the public had enough information to determine that danger, according to a new 63 page report published this week. Environmental group Clean Water Action, with graduate students from Johns Hopkins University, plumbed the academic and professional literature on EOR and its associated regulatory issues in order to lay out the potential environmental and public health risks posed by EOR. They also detail how the drilling method came to be handled with such a light touch by regulators at both the state and federal level.

The report details that the almost non-existent regulatory treatment for EOR, which makes up 60 percent of U.S. oil and gas production, may be further watered down due to proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts by the Trump administration. In addition, oil, gas, and coal companies are pushing for two Senate bills offering tax incentives for this drilling technique which cast it as a supposed climate change solution.

Environmental Defense Fund Action Launches Ad Campaign to Protect EPA Budget

A 3-D pie chart made of dollar bills

Fearing that President Donald Trump will make good on his promise to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) political arm, EDF Action, has announced a million dollar ad buy to raise awareness about how these budget cuts will affect the lives of American citizens.

The ad campaign’s goal is to target local television, radio, and online outlets with information about the EPA’s local impact on public health and the environment.

States Band Together to Sue EPA After Agency Backtracks on Pesticide Ban

Pesticide spray sign

In late March, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt decided that his agency would not place an outright ban on a pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical called chlorpyrifos. The decision came after a federal court ordered the EPA to make a final decision on whether or not to ban the pesticide, which the Obama administration had proposed banning in 2015. The chemical has been on the market in the United States since 1965 under the brand name Lorsban and indoor use of the chemical has been banned for more than a decade.

In its decision to allow the pesticide to continue being used in the United States, the EPA went against its own agency’s findings that the pesticide presented unnecessary risks to American citizens. And while Pruitt’s EPA officials did not deny those findings, they did claim additional studies on the chemical were still needed before they could ban it, thus allowing the product's continued use.

In the three and a half months since the EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision, the story has become far more complex than the usual “regulators siding with industry” trope that has played out far too often.

Trump To Tap Jeff Holmstead for EPA? Swamp Alert!

As part of President Donald Trump’s effort to “drain the swamp” directly into his cabinet, a revolving door coal lobbyist is now poised to take a top position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the second time in his career.

According to Axios, President Trump is expected to appoint Jeffrey Holmstead to second-in-command at the EPA, where he will be in charge of overseeing the coal companies that he spent the last decade lobbying for.

US Air Quality Improving but White House Looking to Reverse That Progress

Smokestacks emitting pollution

The American Lung Association (ALA) released its “State of the Air” report last week, and the organization found that air quality in U.S. cities has improved in the time period from 2012–2014. The ALA report specifically cites the increased air quality protections and emission reduction programs that first began popping up in the U.S. to improve air quality in the 1970s.

While overall air quality improved in the major cities studied in the report, the ALA did note that short periods of increased air particulate contamination existed in many areas. Furthermore, the ALA added that at least 166 million Americans are currently living in areas where the level of air contaminants exceeds safe limits.

The timing of this report is very important, as the group is hoping to use this information to convince the Trump administration not to repeal or otherwise weaken air quality standards enacted by the Obama administration.

Fossil Fuel Industry Steps in to Help Save Paris Climate Deal for All the Wrong Reasons

Money clenched in a person's hand

In May of 2016, six months before the U.S. presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump said that he would “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris climate accord. Immediately following his election, however, Trump appeared to back-track slightly, saying he had “an open mind” about the agreement. And just this week, his administration canceled a much-hyped meeting to discuss the deal’s future in the U.S.

The back and forth from the administration likely stems from the fact that officials within it are split, with people like senior adviser Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt urging the president to withdraw from the deal, and people like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that the U.S. should remain in it.

Pressure to stay in the Paris agreement isn’t just coming from members of the White House, either. Polls show that 71 percent of the American public supports the deal, so pulling out would prove to be highly unpopular with American voters. But another faction is begging the president to keep the deal in place: American businesses and fossil fuel companies.

Destroying EPA Protections Will Disproportionately Hurt Children

Crying baby

President Donald Trump’s proposed 31 percent budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is devastating for anyone who isn’t financially connected to the fossil fuel industry. Reversing the course on projects that include reducing carbon emissions, protecting rivers and streams from industrial pollutants, and investments in renewable energy is not only bad for the planet, but it is a disaster for human health. And those most at risk of a potentially more toxic environment are children.

There are several reasons why children are more susceptible to pollution than adults, with the most obvious being that they spend more time outdoors and are more likely to come in direct contact with dirt, water, and plant life.

But the real danger to children lies in their biology.

Donald Trump Jeopardizes America’s Global Position By Reversing US Climate Policy

Donald Trump pointing at a rally

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, a common theme among the candidates was that the U.S. needed to scale back efforts to combat climate change because one country can’t go it alone. The candidates’ thoughts were that other countries were still polluting, so why should the U.S. “destroy our economy” to address climate change?

The only problem with this talking point is that it simply isn’t true. In fact, thanks to President Donald Trump’s decision to scale back some of the most aggressive climate protections enacted by former President Obama, the U.S. is now the country appearing to take a lackadaisical approach toward climate change.

Study: Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated

Natural gas power plant

Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded in a recent study that natural gas power plants release 21–120 times more methane than earlier estimates. 

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11–90 times more than initial estimates. Natural gas, long touted as a cleaner and more climate-friendly alternative to burning coal, is obtained in the U.S. mostly via the controversial horizontal drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue's flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

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