An environmental group has released a series of new infrared videos that show air pollution emissions from some fossil fuel extraction operations in the state.
It’s more evidence of the overall dirty nature of drilling and onsite storage of oil and gas, especially since the arrival of the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom here, but the largest concern has to be the health of those people who live near drilling and storage sites.
Earthworks, the environmental group, partnered with Bold Oklahoma and Stop Fracking Payne County in the videos’ release and accompanying statement. The videos, however, speak for themselves. I urge you to watch them. People who live near these oil and gas operations are undoubtedly breathing these chemical emissions directly into their bodies. It can’t be healthy.
— EARTHWORKS (@Earthworks) July 12, 2016
In the statement, Kel Pickens, who co-founded Stop Fracking Payne County, noted:
It is completely unacceptable to have toxic pollution billowing out of tanks and pipes next to homes and public parks. Our regulatory agencies and officials for Stillwater, Payne County, and the state need to open their eyes. Now that we have infrared video it’s clear as day, the pollution is all around us.
The health implications alone posed by the pollution should concern everyone. Earthworks also notes through its Oil and Gas Threat Map that 99,000 people in Oklahoma live within a half mile of 29,912 active oil and gas wells, and compressors and processors. It also notes that there are 69 schools and seven medical facilities within that range of the operations.
Mekasi Camp Horinek, director of Bold Oklahoma, said:
Our community has been consistently polluted by the refinery and other industrial plants, but I had no idea that the countless wells that dot our roads, reservation and communities were also polluting our air. We must stop this toxic pollution from harming the families of the Ponca and the farmers and ranchers who stand with us against this threat.
Earthworks is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to be more aggressive in fighting this type of pollution. In the statement, a certified thermogapher for the group, Sharon Wilson, said, “I’ve seen this type of pollution in every one of the 13 states I have visited with Earthworks’ infrared camera. It is clear to me that we need nationwide rules to protect all Americans, and especially in places like Oklahoma where the state is apparently unwilling to do so.”
The long-term answer to all this is to develop more renewable and sustainable energy sources, like wind and solar power, and limiting and then eventually eliminating our use of fossil fuels, but the EPA and the state of Oklahoma need to take action now to stop the pollution.