By: Melody Reis, Senior Legislative and Regulatory Policy Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: January 11, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Melody Reis, and I am the Senior Legislative and Regulatory Policy Manager for Moms Clean Air Force. I am speaking today in broad support of the proposed methane rules, and to urge EPA to finalize the strongest and most comprehensive version of these rules possible.
Methane is the largest component of natural gas. When fossil fuels like natural gas and crude oil are extracted and transported, some of the methane leaks out. This is problematic because methane is responsible for 25% of the man-made global warming we are experiencing today, and millions of tons are leaking from oil and gas operations every year. Reducing methane pollution is one of the most effective levers we have to slow the rate of climate change.
And make no mistake: climate change is here. Catastrophic flooding, devastating droughts, extreme heat, historic blizzards, and longer, more intense wildfire seasons are evidence of its arrival, and it will only get worse unless we take action.
Methane isn’t just a climate issue. It’s also a public health issue. Methane contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, a toxic air pollutant and component of smog, which can reduce lung function and, with long-term exposure, permanently damage lung tissue.
Moreover, oil and gas production often results in the release of other toxic chemicals alongside methane including toluene, xylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. These hazardous chemicals can affect lung development in children and increase the risk of cancer and other serious health concerns.
This dangerous pollution from oil and gas activities is occurring in communities across the country – communities where families live and where children attend school. It’s happening in minority communities and low-income communities, which have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
One in three Americans lives in a county with oil and gas production operations, and nearly 18 million - many of whom are children whose developing lungs and bodies are especially susceptible to hazardous environments - live within one mile of active oil and gas wells.
Reducing methane emissions will deliver meaningful climate benefits, help to clean up our air, and protect the health of our children. Strong federal standards are needed to establish baseline protections for families and children across this country. I thank EPA for its attention to this issue, and I urge the agency to swiftly adopt comprehensive regulations to limit methane pollution.