Oil & gas industry group held QEP Resources up as a model actor for air quality, but the company was fined $4 million for polluting air and tried to extend controversial ‘flaring’ activities
Studies and scientific data increasingly show that oil and gas operations are linked to significant ozone pollution in the West. A recent study from the Colorado School of Public Health found that people who live near gas wells are being exposed to elevated levels of air pollutants, including the known cancer causing benzene. Last year, the Denver Post reported that oil and gas operations have also been linked to ozone pollution.
Science hasn’t stopped the oil and gas industry trade group Western Energy Alliance (WEA) from trying to mislead Westerners about the effects oil and gas production, and neither have basic facts.
WEA’s recent “Common Ground Air” web-ad features QEP Resources, an oil and gas company based in Colorado. In the video, a company spokesperson states that “…that the industry has put a lot of time, effort and money – resources- into trying to improve air quality.”
Unfortunately, QEP Resources rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Last year, QEP was fined $4 million for violating the Clean Air Act. QEP also tried to extend a highly polluting and controversial practice known as flaring, where gas is burned off directly into the atmosphere, in eastern Utah. What’s more, this resource is literally going up in flames, with no benefit to American taxpayers. In fact, mineral owners in North Dakota recently filed a lawsuit alleging they have lost out on millions in royalties because of the practice.
A recent study estimated that in 2012, North Dakota oil producers generated greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to putting another 1 million cars on the road from flaring. And for what? Certainly no benefit to taxpayers.
If a company that’s been fined $4 million for clean air violations in the past year alone is the best poster child Western Energy Alliance could come up with, that doesn’t say much for the oil and gas industry’s honesty as a whole. Perhaps it’s time for Western Energy Alliance and other industry groups to spend less time green washing and more time working with all stakeholders to reduce air pollution. Our quality of life and economy depend on it.