By: Brooke Petry, Pennsylvania state coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: January 10, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to offer comments today. My name is Brooke Petry. I’m a Pennsylvania state coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, and I live in Philadelphia with my family.
I am speaking today in support of the proposed EPA methane rules. I urge the EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution by requiring inspections at all wells, including those with equipment known to malfunction, and eliminating pollution from routine flaring.
I want to first thank the EPA for updating the draft rule to include stronger protections for families living near oil and gas operations—and indeed, for all of us. Even far afield from oil and gas operations, methane pollution wreaks havoc. Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas that is fueling the climate crisis and polluting the air that our children breathe. Methane pollution has over 80 times more climate-warming power than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Therefore, reducing methane pollution is one of the most impactful tools we have to slow the pace of the climate crisis.
My family, like many others, lives with the daily challenge of asthma. I am an asthmatic myself, and the parent of a child with asthma. During an asthma flare, or on days that are very hot or with poor air quality, I have to weigh the safety of necessities like walking to the store and carrying our groceries home. I sometimes struggle to balance the challenges of working, parenting, and all of the demands of daily life while prioritizing my own physical health and safety. That struggle is exacerbated by poor air quality—a result of air pollution and of the climate crisis.
Still worse has been watching my child struggle to breathe. Every parent of an asthmatic child knows that bone deep fear—that your child might have an asthma attack while playing with friends—while in gym class—on a particularly hot or cold day. The list of worries goes on…
Air pollution and climate change are factors that play into the daily choices that my family makes. In my home, and in my city, these are not theoretical foes—but very real, very present dangers. With ever rising temperatures, dangerous pollutants mix with heat and sunlight, forming ground level ozone at levels that are unsafe for many people to breathe and which can trigger asthma attacks.
Philadelphia has ranked as one of the top ten asthma capitals in the nation, and the childhood asthma rate is more than double the national average. Communities that have been harmed by harmful practices like redlining, disinvestment and environmental racism are even harder hit, with children of color being hospitalized for asthma attacks at 5 times the rate of their white peers. Lower income communities and communities of color also bear the brunt of the worst impacts of the climate crisis—including the dangerous heat of the urban heat island effect that plagues my city each year.
Our most vulnerable populations—children, older folks, pregnant people, working class and low income communities, communities of color, and those of us living with respiratory and other health issues—are on the front lines of the growing climate crisis and are deserving of common sense protections from the harms of polluting industry.
Once again, I support the proposed EPA methane rules and urge you to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive methane rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution. Thank you.