TEXAS — A United Nations-sponsored survey of the world’s top polluters shows the Permian Basin in West Texas is the biggest source of pollution on the planet.
At first the big headline coming out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt last week was oil and gas operators are the top polluters in the world. But just one formation on Earth gets the title of worst polluter in the world: Texas.
According to the pollution tracking consortium Climate TRACE, the Permian Basin in West Texas is No. 1.
“This is the United States, we should be leading in trying to create the cleanest energy we can,” said Jon Goldstein, spokesperson for the Environmental Defense Fund. “We shouldn’t be leading on having the most highly polluting oil and gas basin in the world.”
The Environmental Defense Fund has done extensive testing and monitoring of methane pollution in the Permian Basin and has consistently found alarming levels of methane being flared or simply released into the environment.
Climate TRACE reports the Permian Basin churned out more than 200 million tons of greenhouse emissions last year. That’s 25% more than the next biggest polluter on Earth, an oil and gas field in Russia.
Environmentalist Sharon Wilson of Earthworks Texas is the state’s most active monitors of methane emissions in the Permian Basin. She took infrared video just weeks ago of invisible greenhouse gases billowing out of a vent stack reportedly equipped with the latest environmental equipment.
“The industry isn’t even trying to stop, they are just moving as fast as they can,” said Wilson. “They are trying to make money. When the price of gas goes down, more gas goes into the air.”
President Joe Biden has just announced new EPA rules designed to close loopholes and force states like Texas to aggressively monitor and regulate methane releases and flares. But the new rules likely won’t go into effect until later next year.
“And it’s time now, we need to do something right now,” said Wilson. “This is an emergency. Our future is hanging in the balance.”
Spectrum News 1 made repeated attempts to get a response from Gov. Greg Abbott. We never heard back. The state agency in charge of monitoring and policing polluters in Texas, The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, told us, “no comment.”