In a bold move to tackle climate change and prioritize human health, President Joe Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan have announced the finalization of strong protections that will cut methane and other hazardous pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations. The news broke early this morning, when Administrator Regan announced these critical protections on stage at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai—and Moms are celebrating.
This is a huge deal. Moms Clean Air Force has fought for oil and gas methane protections for over a decade, and our hard work is paying off. Thank you to every one of you who joined us in calling on EPA to cut methane. This announcement was made possible by the hundreds of thousands of concerned people who spoke up for clean air and is a testament to the power of collective action.
Why are these safeguards so important? Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide. Cutting methane is one of the best levers we have to slow climate change right now and prevent worst-case climate scenarios. By addressing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, EPA’s new rule also protects our families from the other toxic pollutants that are released by these operations, including those that can cause cancer, respiratory issues, preterm births, and low birth weight.
Our National Field Director Patrice Tomcik is one of the Moms across the nation who can breathe easier with stronger methane protections in place to protect her son. Patrice says:
“As a mother who lives with oil and gas operations in my community and has fought for EPA methane rules for almost a decade, I am acutely aware of how important this action will be to protect children’s health and safety. Oil and gas operations emit climate-warming methane and other harmful pollutants that can increase the risk of severe health impacts, including respiratory illnesses and cancer, especially in children. As a parent of a cancer survivor, I fear for my son’s health every day as he goes to school a half mile from fracked gas wells, knowing that exposure to oil and gas air pollution could put him at a greater risk of having cancer again. I applaud President Biden and EPA for their leadership on protecting children from the impacts of air pollution and climate change.”
Stronger methane pollution protections are also a win for environmental justice, as communities of color and low-income families all too often bear the greatest burden of pollution. Shaina Oliver, our Colorado field organizer, says:
“As an urban tribal member of the Navajo Nation living in Denver, Colorado, I know this rulemaking is a critical step for helping to protect communities disproportionately impacted by oil and gas pollution, and it gives me hope for our childrens’ future.”
The new protections address the top two sources of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by:
- establishing strong leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements, including requiring inspections at small wells with leak-prone equipment, which are responsible for half of all methane emissions nationwide; and
- maintaining zero-emitting pneumatic equipment requirements.
The rule also establishes a response program to address high emission incidents that often impact communities living on the frontline of oil and gas operations.
EPA’s new methane rule is a big step forward, but our work is far from done. We will continue to work with EPA and state agencies as they implement these protections, and will keep demanding strong pollution safeguards that ensure clean air for this generation and the next.