By: Kim Coates, Louisiana 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
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. My name is Kim Coates. I am a state coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force and live in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, in Tangipahoa Parish. I speak in support of the updated methane rule and urge EPA to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the country to protect the health of our families.
Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is fueling the climate crisis and endangering the health and safety of communities across the country. Living in Louisiana with the highest rates of wetland loss, I have seen firsthand climate change with rising sea levels and flooding. NASA-US Geological Survey reported Louisiana has lost the amount of wetlands to cover the state of Rhode Island. I have personally sloshed through the marsh with hip boots on to plant hundreds of trees in the wetlands, but with the high water levels, the trees have been struggling to grow. The wetland loss can be contributed to rising seas, oil and gas exploration, hurricanes, and Mississippi River engineering. Human-caused factors have added to the loss of our coastal protection from hurricanes.
Ike, Isaac, Gustav, Andrew, Zeta, Rita, Katrina, and Ida are all damaging hurricanes that affected my community in my lifetime. For years, we have experienced hurricanes, but recently flooding has increased, and the wind damage has been catastrophic. Even as far inland as I live, Ida did so much damage. There has been roughly over 3.5 million cubic yards of debris FEMA contractors had to pick up from the storm. The number of trucks could be lined from the South side of Tangipahoa Parish all the way to Memphis, Tennessee.
Not only is Louisiana experiencing the effects of climate change, but we are also suffering from harmful pollution from the oil and gas industry. I have family living in Cancer Alley along the Mississippi River, where my grandfather also worked. We lost him to cancer as have many others in the area. We know that air pollution from the oil and gas industry can cause respiratory diseases, asthma attacks, increased hospitalizations, reproductive problems, blood disorders, neurological problems, cancer, and contribute to climate change, which further harms health. We need to act now.
Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. That is why this methane rule is so important. Ensuring that operators at the wells capture and limit flaring only for safety and maintenance reasons is extremely important. Also, having a program with third party monitoring and using imaging cameras are major improvements. Holding oil and gas companies accountable for requiring plans for closing wells and post closure checks are great requirements to fighting climate change and air pollution.
Again, I support the proposed EPA methane regulations and ask for the strictest comprehensive methane rules to protect our families from air pollution and more damaging climate related storms and flooding. Thank you.