By: Rachel Meyer, Ohio River Valley coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: January 11, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317
To: Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Rachel Meyer, and I am the Ohio River Valley coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, an organization of over 1.4 million people committed to protecting children’s health from the impacts of climate change and air pollution. Thank you for the opportunity to testify about the proposed new performance standards to reduce methane pollution.
I live in Independence Township, Beaver County, which is located in Southwest Pennsylvania. I support EPA’s updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations. This is an important step towards addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health and safety of children and families across the country.
As a community member surrounded by oil and gas operations such as wells, pigging operations, storage facilities, pipelines, processing facilities, and compressor stations, I am concerned about the health effects from living so close to these industrial operations. This is where my three-year-old daughter lives, learns, and plays. In particular, I am very concerned about the methane and volatile organic compounds emitted by the natural gas compressor station located near my house. I have had days where my own asthma has been aggravated for no other attributable reason other than its pollution. Reducing the methane and VOC pollution from compressor stations and other oil and gas infrastructure is a critical step for protecting public health.
In addition, methane is also a huge contributor to climate change. Any action we can take to decrease greenhouse gases is critically important. We see the negative impact climate change is already having. Quickly and significantly reducing methane pollution can slow the rate of climate change now and help to protect our children’s future.
In Beaver County, families like mine are surrounded by polluting oil and gas infrastructure. New analysis released by Earthworks and FracTracker shows that more than 17.3 million people, including 3.9 million children under 18 reside within a half mile health threat radius of active oil and gas production operations across our nation. Where there are oil and gas operations, you can find methane leaking along with toxic pollutants. Air pollution from the oil and gas industry can cause respiratory diseases, asthma attacks, increased hospitalizations, reproductive problems, adverse birth outcomes, blood disorders, neurological problems, and cancer. As a mother of a three year old, I worry about her exposure to oil and gas pollution and how it may impact her developing little lungs. I am grateful for the improvements to this rule that will help clean up the air quality.
One such improvement is the requirement that abandoned wells are subject to inspections until closure. Requiring oil and gas companies to submit a closure plan and conduct a post-closure survey of abandoned wells to ensure they are not leaking will help to prevent them from becoming orphaned wells. As someone who has worried that her family is being exposed to pollution from an orphaned well near our house, I certainly welcome the requirement for companies to be held accountable for cleaning up their own mess and properly closing their wells.
I do urge you to act more aggressively to eliminate pollution from flaring. When companies routinely flare, we are exposed to harmful and wasteful pollution. The final rule should require that companies take the necessary actions to limit the practice of flaring only to instances where it is necessary for safety or maintenance reasons.
Once again, I support the proposed EPA methane rule and urge you to finalize it with additional cuts to methane in order to protect children’s health from all sources of oil and gas methane pollution.