Dear Administrator Jackson:
EPA is working to finalize new standards for natural gas operations to reduce emissions of smog-forming volatitle organice compounds and toxic air pollutants tha can cause cancer and other seious health effects. As you consider these standards, we ask that you consider a new study from the Colorado School of Public Health that riases concersn about the potential public health ipact of air emissions from unvonventional gas drillig operations. The findings from this study, wile preliminary, reinforce the importancce of your forthcoming rules and the need for additional research.
Scientists at the Colorado School of public Health examined three years of air monitoring data in Garfield County, Colorado and concluded that residents living near natural gas wells may face increased exposure to benzene, a known human carcinogen, and other toxic chemicals, such as ethylbenze, toluene, and xylene. The researchers found higher lifetime cancer risks for people living closer to the wells. They also concluded that these nearby residents have a higher risk of experiencing neurological and respiratory health effects, such as headaches, throat and eye irritation, impaired lung capacity, dizziness, fatigue, numbness in the limbs, and tremors.
The authors concluded:
[P]reliminary results indicate that health effects resulting from air emissions during development of unconventional natural gas resources are most likely to occur in resident living nearest to the well pads and warrant further study. Risk prevention efforts should be directed towards reducing air emission exposures for person living and working near wells during well completions.
We support the responsible and safe production of U.S. oil and natural gas resources. The good news is that we can control potentially harmful air emissions from drilling operations by implementing proven technology and best practices already in use today. We hope that you will consider the results of this new study in your rulemaking, and we look forward to reviewing EPA's new rules on finalized.
Herny A. Waxman
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations