This was written by Celerah Hewes:
Moms Clean Air Force has been working on oil and gas methane rules at the federal and state level for 10 years. We recognize that quickly and significantly reducing methane is one of the best levers we have to slow the rate of climate change now and help clean up the air. Methane is the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas accelerating climate change.
Last week, we were out in full force at the EPA’s virtual public hearing with 38 members from across the country giving oral testimony. We support the proposed rules to cut methane and other harmful air pollutants from newly built and older existing oil and gas operations. Moms were in good company, as approximately 96% of people spoke in support of the EPA proposed methane rule. For the first time, there will be methane rules that apply to the nation’s nearly one million older oil and gas operations that emit the majority of methane pollution.
We had a diverse group of speakers who represented Black, Latino and Indigenous communities, as well as military veterans, healthcare workers, youth, and frontline communities. Our topline message was the same: Urging the EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution including routine flaring and small wells.
Here are some testimony excerpts from Moms Clean Air Force:
“We did not ask for fracking to come to our community but we will suffer the burden of the health and safety risks for years to come. In Pennsylvania, 1.5 million people live within half of a mile of an active oil or gas facility. 300,000 students attend schools and daycares within a half mile of an oil and gas facility. And as the oil and gas industry continues to add wellpads in neighborhoods all around me, those numbers continue to grow.” Vanessa Lynch lives with gas wells in her Pennsylvania community.
“Latinos have sacrificed our children for generations in honor and service to this country and we deserve to come back to a healthy clean land. No matter where that land is. The current climate crisis has caused millions to migrate to the state of Florida to seek refuge and stability. In order to welcome those families we must provide and implement drastic change now.” Yaritza Perez is a mom and Marine veteran from Florida.
“Because of systemic environmental violence and racism built into our treaties, laws, policies, and regulations; Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income people have been segregated and redlined into communities near polluting industries. We are seeing this reality play out once again as oil and gas permits are being proposed near vulnerable communities already disproportionately impacted by pollution.” Shaina Oliver is a mom from Colorado.
“Living near oil and gas flares in the Eagle Ford shale located in south Texas was correlated with a 50 percent higher chance of preterm birth and shorter gestation periods, as compared with mothers who were not exposed to gas flares. These associations were observed almost entirely among Hispanic women. This is an injustice and environmental racism. For the health of all Latina mothers and their babies, we must end the practice of routine flaring.” Erandi Trevino is from Texas.
“As a mom and member of my community I care deeply about environmental justice, especially the connection between climate change and health equity for our most vulnerable populations. Climate change is an environmental justice issue and a major contributor to the health crisis in African American communities – not in some distant future, but right now when severe heat waves regularly threaten public health, preying especially on older adults, pregnant women, and low-income communities in Georgia and elsewhere.” Almeta Cooper is from Georgia.
“West Virginia’s state government does not adequately protect families from pollution. We need the EPA to create baseline protections for all children across the nation, especially for states like mine that have failed to enact meaningful oil and gas methane protections.” Lucia Valentine is from West Virginia.