By: Laurie Anderson, Colorado Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: June 16, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0295
To: Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Laurie Anderson and I am a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. I live in Broomfield, Colorado. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.
I am a mom of five kids and a mechanical engineer by degree, but I turned my focus to protecting public health and safety after becoming a mom. I live a half mile from a recently fracked 18-well large-scale oil and gas development site. I also serve as a councilmember for the City and County of Broomfield, but am speaking on my own behalf. I urge this administration to cut oil and gas methane pollution 65% by 2025 (from 2012 levels) to protect children’s health and their future.
My community is located along Colorado’s Front Range, where we struggle with problematic air inversions where cool nighttime air traps high levels of pollution up against the Rocky Mountains and impacts our air quality along Front Range communities like mine. The Denver Metro North Front Range is currently listed in “serious” nonattainment for ground-level ozone and is slated to soon be downgraded to “severe” nonattainment as we contend with ozone originating from oil and gas sector pollution in the DJ basin combined with elevated background ground-level ozone originating outside Colorado’s borders.
The ozone season is just beginning, and my region has already been issued “Ozone Action Alerts” every day this past week indicating poor air quality conditions exist in which residents should not exercise outdoors, we should work from home, and do anything we can to reduce NOx emissions. Since ozone is formed when NOx and VOCs mix in the presence of sunlight, it is equally important that the oil and gas sector must also reduce VOC emissions in an effort to reduce ground-level ozone to safe levels.
The oil and gas industry is one of the nation’s largest sources of industrial methane pollution. Oil and gas companies leak and vent methane into the atmosphere when they extract, store, and transport oil and gas throughout the supply chain.
As Colorado has experienced the detrimental effects of air pollution and climate change, we have been forced to contend with the negative impacts of oil and gas extraction. As such, Colorado has continued to lead the nation on strict methane regulations, and even with these enhanced regulations, oil and gas production is still viable in our state. We have already increased wellbore integrity, enhanced programs for leak detection and repair, prohibited the practice of routine venting and flaring (except for in emergency situations), begun the process of replacing pneumatic controllers with non-methane-emitting alternatives, and more. These same enhanced regulations to reduce methane emissions can be effectively implemented across the country, just as they have been here in Colorado.
A 65% reduction in methane pollution from new and existing oil and gas operations is an achievable target, and the EPA can set us on this path forward with a strong and comprehensive methane rule.
Without swift federal action, methane pollution from the oil and gas industry will continue to skyrocket. Cutting methane pollution across the nation will help reduce the impacts of climate change and can also improve air quality and public health.
I am concerned about the impacts of climate change. Last year, Colorado experienced the three worst wildfires in our state’s history, which impacted air quality across the state, and Colorado remains in severe drought on the western slope. Colorado relies on our winter snowpack for our water supply. These impacts are serious, and we must reduce our pollution now.
I am also concerned about the health impacts stemming from air pollution. When methane is released during oil and gas operations, co-pollutants are also released, including carcinogens such as benzene. Benzene can worsen asthma, affect lung development in children, and increases the risk of cancer, immune system damage, and neurological, reproductive, and developmental problems.
Air pollution can travel long distances and harm people's health, but the communities, like mine, that live near oil and gas operations are exposed to higher levels of harmful air pollution that put our health at risk—especially our children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with underlying conditions, as well as disproportionately impacted communities, which most often include people of color and low-income communities.
Climate change and air pollution are a reality we must contend with. Therefore, I support cutting oil and gas methane pollution 65% by 2025 (from 2012 levels) to protect children’s health and their future. Our country is ready to embrace these changes. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.