Environmental Justice, Public Health, and Frontline Advocates Call on EPA to Cut Methane Pollution
On October 6, 2022, advocates from environmental justice, public health, environmental, and frontline community groups joined a rally as part of a nationwide day of action to call on President Biden to take immediate action to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a draft rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the U.S. While the proposal was an important step in the right direction, hundreds of thousands of people submitted public comments urging EPA to go further, and urged the Agency to release a proposal to address critical gaps in the initial proposed rule.
Earlier this week, people from across the country sent petitions to President Biden urging his administration to move swiftly and publish strong methane rules. Now, as the White House reviews the updated EPA methane rule, advocates are calling on President Biden to publish the rule as soon as possible to protect communities and our climate now.
Patricia Garcia-Nelson, GreenLatinos' Colorado Fossil Fuel Just Transition Advocate, said environmental proponents will hold the administration accountable:
“The EPA and the Biden administration have a real chance to make a difference,” Garcia-Nelson said. “Increasing community air monitoring, accepting those results and integrating those really would change the game.”
Rally-goers painted a clear picture of what is at stake should the oil and gas industry continue to produce without stricter regulations: devastating effects on the health of our communities, our air and compounding the already-present symptoms of climate change.
“I live just a half mile from a large-scale oil & gas operation where ongoing air quality monitoring continues to pick up spikes in emissions from these recently developed well sites, and my community has experienced the very real health impacts from respiratory issues to nose bleeds,” said Laurie Anderson, Colorado State Director of Moms Clean Air Force.
Shaina Oliver, State Coordinator for EcoMadres/Moms Clean Air Force Colorado Chapter, added: “Moms, [their children and generations to come] are counting on the EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution.”
According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report, Colorado ranks as the 7th worst in the nation for air quality. And the situation isn’t improving - areas of the state that were already designated as non-attainment zones that fail to meet air quality standards have been continually downgraded, and are now categorized as “severe.”
The data and the lives of the community members affected are proof that there is no time to waste in curbing methane emissions. Thankfully, Coloradans aren’t alone in calling on the federal government to act. Advocates in Washington, DC, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas held similar events highlighting how strong federal methane rules would protect their communities, and echoing calls for immediate action from the Biden administration. They believe that “collaborative action, like our actions here today, have the potential to create monumental change," concluded Morgan Brown, fellow with the Methane Partners Campaign as well as the Colorado Organizer for Defend Our Future.
Learn more about how methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is fueling the climate crisis and threatening the health and safety of communities across the country here.