By: Gabriella Da Silva, Florida field organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: November 30, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good evening. My name is Gabriella Da Silva, and I live in Tampa, Florida. Thank you for providing a platform for not only our organizations to speak, but for our communities to speak.
I am a Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres organizer. We are a community of a million moms and dads for clean air, our children’s health, and justice in every breath. I am also here today as a concerned big sister, aunt, godmother, and aspiring mom. Moms support the proposed EPA methane rules and 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, including small wells and routine flaring.
Living in Florida, we don’t see oil and gas operations much like other states, but we do see the impacts of a warming planet caused by methane pollution. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. When Floridians think of methane, we think of more extreme heat days. We think of warming oceans and the bleaching of our coral reef ecosystems. We think of sea level rise and the threat of salt water intrusion to our drinking water. We think of severe storms and hurricanes, causing power outages, flooding, and costly recovery. Climate change is already impacting our families and communities in Florida. We’re seeing firsthand the effects of climate instability on our most vulnerable populations—children, older adults, pregnant women, those whose health is compromised, communities of color, and low-income communities.
I was 12 years old during the 2005 record-breaking hurricane season, with 28 named storms. That hurricane season, we had to fully stock on nonperishable foods, fill all our bathtubs up with clean water, shutter ourselves in along with my sisters sleeping in a small storage closet underneath the stairs because it was the only place in our home with no windows. We missed a few weeks of school that year. Roads were too flooded to drive anywhere. It took us 10 days to get our power back at one point. We were lucky enough to have a generator to help keep fans running so that we could sleep with some sense of comfort. Evacuation almost became an option for us that season too. We were lucky the track of the storm shifted. But we cannot live each hurricane season praying that the path of the storm will change. And recently, the 2020 hurricane season has just broken 2005’s with 30 named storms. I wonder how many more record-breaking hurricane seasons I will continue to live through in my lifetime along with other Floridians. Floridians in rural and coastal communities are continuously taking an economic hit from these storms.
The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report released in April found that our county, Hillsborough County, received a grade of F in ozone pollution. The worst grade in the state. That means more asthma attacks, more heart attacks, and more lung infections. Each year we are seeing more and more extreme heat days here in Florida, and combined with ongoing pollution, this can be detrimental to our children’s health. Cases of pediatric asthma in Tampa are 21,679 and rising. We need to do better. Though Florida is not an oil and gas state, methane pollution does not stop at state lines.
I urge the EPA to implement a strong and comprehensive methane rule. Now is the time to act before there is no time left. Your children, my future children, my nieces and nephews, and my goddaughter’s chance for a livable future depend on it. Thank you for this opportunity to speak.