The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says the agency will release new proposals for governing air emissions from oil and gas drilling operations within the next several months.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said cumulative emissions from oil and gas drilling–such as those in Wyoming—haves surprised regulators.
“We were caught off-guard when they learned that ozone levels in rural Wyoming were as bad on some days as Los Angeles,” Jackson said Monday during an event in Philadelphia.
.Jackson said, in general, states are responsible for enforcing federal regulations.
“And the state has a huge role to play in that planning process. No state can afford at this point to look the other way,” she said. “I would encourage the state of Pennsylvania to be aggressively overseeing and looking at air and, of course, water impacts.”
Her encouragement to Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators follows what appears to be a major change in the way Pennsylvania is carrying out those rules.
When it comes to enforcing federal regulations such as the Clean Air Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA relies primarily on state regulators. In Pennsylvania, that’s the Department of Environmental Protection, headed by Michael Krancer.
Last week, Krancer instituted a new policy that requires his personal approval for any citations inspectors issue to Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers. Jackson says her agency has to make sure that states are not “so open for business” that air and water quality are not protected.
In February, the Corbett Administration announced it would reverse a Pennsylvania policy put in place under former Gov. Ed Rendell. That practice calculated emissions based on the cumulative impact of drilling operations, rather than each individual production site.
“Hopefully we can rely on the state to regulate these things and we can provide technical support most of the time,” she said. “But that doesn’t alleviate our responsibility under law to insure they’re doing the right thing.”
Jackson says she reached out to Corbett’s office, but never got a response. Corbett’s office also did not return WHYY’s request for comment.