While Republicans try and figure out the best possible way to dismiss climate science, the EPA has quietly and gradually gone about their business. Today, they finalized rules for oil and gas facilities to report their greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA is under a Supreme Court order to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, and the first step is to actually determine how much emissions each stationary source produces. This reporting, which is mandatory, will affect both onshore and offshore oil rigs, pipelines, storage facilities and refineries, and should cost the industry $62 million dollars in the first year to execute, and then $19 million a year after that. Given that BP has spent $40 billion on cleaning up the Gulf oil spill and STILL turned a profit last quarter, it’s an exceedingly small price to pay; you’re talking about $7,000 per facility annually.
In addition, the EPA is looking at the impact of the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the production of natural gas, after Congress mandated the study. They sought information from all chemical companies engaged in fracking in the United States, like what chemicals they use in the production and how that can impact drinking water. Every company voluntarily provided the information, except one. From the EPA release:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that eight out of the nine hydraulic fracturing companies that received voluntary information requests in September have agreed to submit timely and complete information to help the agency conduct its study on hydraulic fracturing. However, the ninth company, Halliburton, has failed to provide EPA the information necessary to move forward with this important study. As a result, and as part of the agency’s effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided.
EPA’s congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study will look at the potential adverse impact of the practice on drinking water and public health. The agency is under a tight deadline to provide initial results by the end of 2012 and the thoroughness of the study depends on timely access to detailed information about the methods used for fracturing. EPA announced in March that it would conduct this study and solicit input from the public through a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions. The agency has completed the public meetings and thousands of Americans from across the country shared their views on the study and expressed full support for this effort.
You can find more on the EPA’s subpoena of Halliburton here. If 8 out of 9 companies agreed to any regulation or request for documents of any type, I think you’d be right naming Halliburton as that 9th company even if you didn’t know the subject matter it concerned.
This is expected to be a two-year study of the fracking process, hopefully with a full explanation of the risks involved and recommendations for action. I fear that we’ve already seen the worst, while operating essentially in the dark.