By: Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: January 10, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Elizabeth Bechard, my pronouns are she/her, and I am a Senior Policy Analyst with Moms Clean Air Force, which is an organization of over 1.4 million parents around the country. I live in Essex, Vermont, with my husband and six-year-old twins.
As a parent, I am deeply concerned about the effect that climate change is having and will continue to have on our children’s health. I want to thank EPA for taking meaningful action to reduce climate-warming methane pollution: I 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 forward in addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health and well-being of families across the country.
One of the things that worries me most about climate change is the impact that extreme weather is having on our mental health. Last year, there were 15 billion-dollar disasters in the US. Millions of people living in our country felt the impacts of raging wildfires, searing drought, extreme heat, devastating storms and hurricanes, and torrential rains and flooding. Just last month, a catastrophic winter storm knocked out power and disrupted holiday travel for large swaths of the US, and heartbreakingly, took dozens of lives. Over the past few weeks, California has seen torrential rains, flooding, and mudslides.
Each of these disasters takes a toll on our mental health. According to the American Public Health Association, up to 50% of people exposed to extreme weather disasters are at risk of adverse mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and even increased risk of suicide. Recent surveys show that 65% of adults and 84% of teens and young people are worried about climate change. And of course, the mental health burden of climate change is not distributed evenly. Communities of color and low-income communities, who are often affected first and worst by climate disasters, are at higher risk for mental health impacts when these disasters strike.
Nearly all of us will feel climate change’s impact on our mental health at some point. This is deeply troubling, because as the World Health Organization says, there is no health without mental health.
Strong methane standards are a critical step that we can and must take to limit climate pollution and minimize the impact of extreme weather in the future. We know that methane pollution has more than 80 times the climate warming power of carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Reducing methane pollution is one of the best tools we have to rapidly slow the pace of climate change, and it is essential to protecting our collective mental health.
Once again, I support EPA’s updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the country, and I urge you to finalize the strongest possible version of the rule as quickly as possible. This is an important step towards addressing the climate crisis and protecting the physical and mental health of children and families across the country. Thank you.