CONTACT: Sasha Tenenbaum
Senior Manager, Media and Public Engagement
Today, President Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations. The EPA proposal includes stronger standards that would reduce methane emissions from covered sources by 87% below 2005 levels. Members of Moms Clean Air Force have been demanding oil and gas methane protections for a decade. This proposal is an important step toward addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health and safety of communities across the country.
The updated proposal improves on many of the standards in the original draft rule released by EPA in 2021, and addresses concerns of the hundreds of thousands of people who submitted public comments urging EPA to strengthen their methane protections, and the thousands of people from across the country who sent petitions to President Biden urging his administration to move swiftly to publish these updated methane rules.
Some improvements include:
- Strengthening 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;
- Maintaining zero-emitting pneumatic equipment requirements;
- Taking steps toward addressing high-emission incidents with a new monitoring response program; and
- Requiring that abandoned wells are subject to inspections until closure.
“The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations is critical to protecting the health of families across the country, especially the millions living on the frontlines of oil and gas development,” said Celerah Hewes, Project Manager for Moms Clean Air Force. “Cutting methane is one of the best levers we have to slow the rate of climate change and swiftly strengthening and finalizing these safeguards will help ensure everyone’s right to clean air.”
There is more to be done and Moms Clean Air Force looks forward to working with the EPA to make sure these updated methane rules protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution including small wells, routine flaring, and polluting equipment.
In response to the proposed EPA methane rules, Moms Clean Air Force organizers and staff issued the following statements:
“A strong EPA oil and gas methane rule would help to protect frontline communities like mine from methane and other harmful air pollution,” said Vanessa Lynch, Pennsylvania State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force and mother living near Pittsburgh. “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 are responsible for approximately half of the methane emitted from all well sites in the United States 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 Texas, we have seen firsthand the environmental injustices of the oil and gas industry on Latino and Black families with studies showing communities of color bear a disproportionately high exposure to flaring operations,” said Erandi Trevino, Texas State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force. “We hope EPA will eliminate pollution from routine flaring and protect all families living on the frontlines of these operations.”
“The methane emitted from oil and natural gas wells in Ohio is contributing to the climate change impacts already being felt by our families and communities. We support the methane emission regulations being proposed by EPA and would urge the agency to continue working to strengthen these protections,” said Tracy Sabetta, Ohio State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio.
“If we want to protect our families from climate disaster, we must move quickly to cut methane pollution—a super-potent greenhouse gas—from our atmosphere,” says Laurie Anderson, Colorado State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force and Broomfield City Council Member. “I live just a half mile from a large-scale oil and gas operation where ongoing air quality monitoring continues to pick up spikes in emissions from these recently developed well sites. Members of my community have experienced the very real health impacts from nose bleeds to respiratory issues.”
“Mothers, like me, who have children with asthma know all too well that we need transparency and that air quality monitoring is a must to advance environmental justice for Black, Latino, Indigenous, and economically challenged communities,” says Shaina Oliver, Colorado State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force and Indigenous rights advocate. “We deserve to know the impacts of the air we breathe on our health. This is about bringing justice in every breath for all communities.”