Over 12 Million Americans Live in the Oil and Gas Threat Zone

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This week, Clean Air Task Force and Earthworks unveiled a suite of tools designed to inform and mobilize Americans about the health risks from toxic air pollution from the oil and gas industry. For the first time, Americans across the country — from Washington County, PA, to Weld County, CO to Kern County, CA — can access striking new community-level data on major health risks posed by oil and gas operations.

The oil and gas industry is the country’s largest and fastest-growing source of methane pollution. And its facilities emit numerous other hazardous and toxic air pollutants along with methane — including benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and ethylbenzene. That toxic pollution presents significant cancer and respiratory health risks, underscoring the need for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up existing sources of toxic air pollution without delay.

The EPA recently signed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that for the first time will regulate methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities, preventing some of the sector’s future toxic air pollution from being released. EPA’s current regulations addressing the industry’s toxic air pollution are limited and the NSPS does not cover the 1.2 million existing facilities in 33 states. CATF’s report, entitled Fossil Fumes, and Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Threat Map focus specifically on toxic pollutants from those facilities, and their resulting health impacts.

Earthworks Oil & Gas Threat Map

The Oil & Gas Threat Map maps the nation’s 1.2 million active oil and gas wells, compressors and processors. Using the latest peer-reviewed research into the health impacts attributed to oil and gas air pollution, the map conservatively draws a ½ mile health threat radius around each facility.

Within that total area are:

  • 12.4 million people;

  • 11,543 schools and 639 medical facilities; and

  • 184,578 square miles, an area larger than California.

For each of the 1,459 counties in the…

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