By: Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar, National Events Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: January 12, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
I’m Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar, and I am the national events coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, a community of over 1.4 million parents and caregivers that have joined forces to protect the health and safety of children and youth by fighting air pollution and climate change.
I am here today to support EPA’s updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the country. This is an important step toward protecting the health of families and addressing the climate crisis since methane is one of the most potent contributors to global warming.
I’m from California, where my family relocated after raising me, my twin, and three younger siblings in Costa Rica. At a very early age, I was involved in community-based efforts to protect the environment and public health, and I hope to continue fighting for these causes.
My upbringing in rural and urban Costa Rica sensitized me to the reality that some of the most intense consequences of climate change on vulnerable populations manifest themselves in issues of public health. I witnessed firsthand how the compounding effects of climate change and social inequalities can exacerbate public health issues through vector-borne diseases, food insecurity, and natural disasters. Coastal communities directly rely on the health of the environment for their own livelihoods, nutrition, and well-being.
Vulnerable communities within the US are also affected disproportionately by the consequences of methane emissions. As a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States must act where we can and methane is the perfect opportunity.
California, my other home, is the state that suffers the worst air pollution in the country, and this has been exacerbated by wildfires. In the summer of 2019, my brothers, one of whom is asthmatic, and parents had to evacuate for a short period because of the unhealthy, yellow air caused by wildfires a few miles away.
On the opposite coast, in my birthplace of Miami Beach, my grandparents, who have very serious health issues and insufficient care as it is, now worry about floods regularly.
No matter where you are, you are not exempt from the detrimental impacts of climate change.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas fueling global warming. Significantly reducing methane pollution now is one of the best levers we have to slow the rate of climate change.
Oil and gas operations are also releasing chemicals such as benzene and contributing to ground-level ozone that damage children’s lungs and weaken their immune systems more and more with each passing day. Cutting methane pollution will have the benefit of reducing associated harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as benzene that can cause respiratory diseases, asthma attacks, neurological problems, and cancer.
As someone who was brought up in communities that suffered disproportionately from the impacts of environmental injustice and climate change, and as someone who hopes to be a parent in the future, I am thankful that the current administration has proposed a rule that will help protect communities from the oil and gas industry’s climate warming methane and harmful toxic pollution.
We are depending on EPA to protect present and future generations by finalizing this rule with the urgency the moment demands. Thank you.