Parents and environmental advocates from across the country held events earlier this month for a National Day of Methane Action. Moms Clean Air Force joined frontline community groups, public health organizations, and environmental justice groups outside the White House to call on President Biden to act swiftly to finalize Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules to cut methane, a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant that fuels the climate crisis.
In an important step forward, EPA proposed a draft rule in 2021 to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations across the US. However, there were some critical gaps pointed out by tens of thousands of Moms Clean Air Force advocates who continue to call for swift action by President Biden to expand those protections.
Vanessa Lynch, a Moms Clean Air Force state coordinator who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, traveled to Washington to speak outside the White House and urge President Biden and EPA to cut methane pollution from oil and gas operations, including smaller wells, now. Here’s what she said:
“A strong methane rule will protect frontline communities like mine. We know families who live near oil and gas operations are more likely to experience adverse birth outcomes, cancers, asthma attacks, and respiratory problems. Many of these outcomes would be significantly reduced with protections that include low-producing oil and gas wells, which are responsible for approximately half of the methane emitted from all well sites in the US while accounting for only 6% of the nation’s oil and gas production. The methane footprint of these small wells is enormous and can’t be ignored.”
In Pennsylvania, we recently joined partners from Earthworks in visiting a small well with leak prone equipment in southwest Pennsylvania. The well had been spewing gases that were invisible to the naked eye in a county park. This well was discovered because the smells and sounds emanating from the site could be witnessed from a nearby trail. Fortunately, when the company that manages the well was informed of the leak, the well was quickly fixed.
Requiring oil and gas companies to frequently find methane leaks and repair them is needed to protect our children’s health and the climate.
Also at the Methane Day of Action, Dharma Santos-Santiago, the Climate Justice and Clean Air Advocate at GreenLatinos, shared her experiences with the negative impacts of climate change on environmental justice communities:
“I can see it in Florida, my home state, where Hurricane Ian hit just last week as a Category 4 hurricane. I can see it in Puerto Rico, where my abuelas and my tias live with Hurricane Fiona hitting just two weeks ago, nearly five years to the day from Hurricane Maria, another Category 4 hurricane. Everywhere I look across the country, Latin0 communities, Black communities, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.”
With devastating impacts for the health of families, accelerating climate change and intensifying extreme weather, advocates clearly outlined why there is no time to waste to curb methane pollution. These calls for urgent action were echoed on October 6 by parents from across Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. The Biden administration and EPA must heed the call to action and move swiftly to cut methane.