By: Lucia Valentine, West Virginia field organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: December 1, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Lucia Valentine, and I am the WV organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, working to protect children from air pollution and climate change. I am from Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I support the proposed EPA methane rules and urge you to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive methane rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution including small wells and routine flaring.
Growing up in West Virginia, I have long lived with the negative environmental impacts of heavy industry here in my state. Oil and gas operations in West Virginia pollute our environment and disproportionately affect our most vulnerable communities. Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant that is fueling the climate crisis. This pollution is leading to climate disasters, especially flooding, in West Virginia. Over the summer, my family and I had to evacuate our home for several days due to flooding on the Potomac River. It is quite a helpless feeling not knowing the extent of the damage you may be coming home to. The impacts of these extreme weather events feel very much out of our control, which is why it is important to control what we can, like implementing strong emissions standards, in order to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Cutting methane pollution will help reduce the impacts of climate change and can also improve air quality and public health. Children who live, learn, or play near oil and gas operations face a higher risk of exposure to industry’s harmful air pollution. 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. West Virginia’s state government does not adequately protect families from pollution. We need the EPA to create baseline protections for all children across the nation, especially for states like mine that have failed to enact meaningful oil and gas methane protections.
It is imperative that the EPA finalize the strongest and most comprehensive methane rules now in order to protect our environment and next generation from the worst possible effects of the climate crisis. I support the proposed EPA methane rules and urge you to swiftly finalize the strongest and most comprehensive methane rules to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution, including routine flaring and small wells.