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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The Misleading ‘Rollback’ Narrative on COVID-19 Compliance

regulation  safe operations  public health 

Sam Winstel

Sam Winstel
Posted April 2, 2020

The health and safety of workers, communities and the environment is always a priority for the natural gas and oil industry, and never more so during a global pandemic. That’s why API requested temporary relief for non-essential compliance requirements from the White House and several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sadly, reasonable efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) among the energy workforce have been misconstrued by some as “regulatory rollbacks.” This blatantly political narrative is misleading, not to mention inconsistent with public health recommendations. As businesses and regulators adapt to changing circumstances – and implement physical distancing and stay-at-home policies – there may be limited personnel to manage the full scope of some non-essential requirements, but the commitment to safety and sustainability remains unchanged.

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Temporary Relief – To Prioritize Safety and Meet U.S. Energy Needs

regulation  safe operations  public health 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 27, 2020

America’s natural gas and oil industry is asking a number of federal agencies to allow a temporary pause in certain non-essential federal compliance requirements, because it’s likely there will be limited numbers of industry workers to manage them amid federal and state-directed efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The health and safety of our workers and their communities is this industry’s No. 1 priority. These non-essential requirements reflect that and primarily include recordkeeping, training, flexibility in the timing of routine inspections where there might be manpower issues due to the pandemic and other non-safety provisions.

Industry is not soliciting a regulatory rollback or trying to excuse itself from compliance obligations.

Rather, it asks federal officials to consider that industry, along with every other segment of our society, is focused on slowing the virus’ spread.

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Rigorous Science to Protect Public Health and Safety

public health  safe operations  science 

Uni Blake

Uni Blake
Posted September 4, 2019

The natural gas and oil industry cares about the health and safety of the communities where it operates. These are our homes and communities, too – places where we’re raising our families. Getting health and safety right is more than just business. It’s a major focus of our industry’s engagement with communities, as we earn and sustain the permission to safely develop natural gas and oil. 

As part of this engagement, industry is mindful of the safety, health and welfare of surrounding communities, to ensure careful decision-making related to our health and safety responsibilities. We’re guided by high-quality science. We employ and work with scientists, including toxicologists and epidemiologists, so that our analyses are well-founded.

As a scientist myself, let me be clear: We must rely on real science as a basis for sound decision-making so that as we operate the public and the environment are protected. Unscientific material – such as opinion pieces, unfinished studies and misinformation campaigns – isn’t helpful to this process, creates false narratives and can skew public perceptions.  

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Anti-Oil Advocacy, Scare Headlines and Dubious Conclusions

hydraulic fracturing  oil and natural gas  public health 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 15, 2018

We’ve seen this movie before: Anti-natural gas and oil advocates put out a “study” or a “report” linking cancer, asthma, low birth weights and (fill in the blank) to industry operations. Scare headlines follow – with truth, as it so often does, lagging behind.

Frequently, the methodologies used in these studies lead to flawed or flimsy conclusions. For example, it’s poor methodology to confuse health effects correlation with causation. Correlation is two things occurring side by side; causation is proving scientifically that one caused the other.

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Mice, Sound Science and Working to Protect Public Health

public health  safe operations  hydraulic fracturing  science 

Uni Blake

Uni Blake
Posted February 14, 2018

The natural gas and oil industry is continually evaluating the safety of its operations and products while developing research projects, technologies and practices that are designed to protect people and the environment. We acknowledge and appreciate that experts from the regulatory and scientific communities are also conducting studies with the same goals.

A recently published paper that associated endocrine disruption to chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid generated some press attention. Yet, as we compare that study’s findings to other scientific literature, there’s a need for caution when interpreting “what if?” study findings.  

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Advancing Americans’ Health, Supporting Their Well-Being

public health  emission reductions  jobs  refineries 

Uni Blake

Uni Blake
Posted November 16, 2017

The health of African American communities is a genuine cause for concern in our country. But attacking our industry is the wrong approach and detracts from the real work that should be done to reduce disparately high rates of disease among African Americans. Industry is committed to the health and safety of the communities where it operates and to its workers, leading the way on reducing U.S. greenhouse gas and other air emissions and supporting millions of well-paying jobs – one of the most important factors in Americans’ well-being.

I’ve read an NAACP paper released this week that accuses the natural gas and oil industry of emissions that disproportionately burden African American communities. As a scientist, my overall observation is that the paper fails to demonstrate a causal relationship between natural gas activity and the health disparities, reported or predicted, within the African American community. Rather, scholarly research attributes those health disparities to other factors that have nothing to do with natural gas and oil operations – such as genetics, indoor allergens and unequal access to preventative care.

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Energy, Science and Public Health

public health  environmental impact  safe operations 

Uni Blake

Uni Blake
Posted April 13, 2017

Public health is a sensitive topic and understandably so. Clean air and water is important to everyone, which is why our industry has put together an effective suite of standards and best practices designed to foster safe and responsible development of our nation’s oil and natural gas resources. Protecting public health in areas where our companies have active oil and natural gas operations is significant for another reason: Many of our employees live in those areas. 

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New Study Links Increased Use of Natural Gas to Longer, Healthier Life

vote4energy  public health  air quality  emission reductions  natural gas  infrastructure 

Kate Wallace

Kate Lowery
Posted August 23, 2016

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a new paper discussing the role of natural gas in public health throughout Turkey. The study focused on the relationship between the adoption of natural gas services and the mortality rates of adults and the elderly. Furthermore, the NBER released a study in February that focused on the relationship between the use of natural gas and infant mortality rates in Turkey.

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