By: Tracy Sabetta, Ohio 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
Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to offer remarks today. My name is Tracy Sabetta, and I am the State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force in Pickerington, Ohio, just outside of Columbus. I am the mother of one daughter, and a lifelong resident of the Buckeye State. I am speaking today in support of EPA’s updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations. This is a critical step towards addressing the growing climate crisis and protecting the health and safety of children and families in Ohio and across the country.
Adopting rules to limit methane pollution would have a profound impact on states like Ohio. We are currently home to more than 103,000 oil and gas production facilities. We rank second in the nation for total residents living within a half mile of these facilities and second for total students attending a school, daycare, or college within a half mile. Increased methane pollution is hitting us here at home and bringing along its own costs.
According to the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at the Ohio State University, the most severe climate impact currently being seen in Ohio is a rise in overnight temperatures. Records for overnight temperatures were broken in four major Ohio cities, with Toledo, Akron, Mansfield, and Findlay setting records for average minimum summer temperatures. In 2022, Columbus had 20 days of summer where the temperature hit or exceeded 90 degrees, above normal for June through August, reflecting many nights when morning readings didn’t drop below the low 70s. These blazing temperatures bring with them a stark impact on cooling systems, electric bills, and people’s health, specifically in frontline communities across the state. Now add power outages into the mix and you have a climate change recipe for disaster.
Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant fueling this climate crisis. The best tool we have in our toolbox to quickly slow the pace of climate change is to reduce levels of methane pollution. Federal methane rules will make a significant difference in states like Ohio that have failed to enact meaningful oil and gas methane protections of their own.
Low-producing oil and gas wells are abundant in Ohio and the surrounding Appalachian region. These wells are responsible for approximately half of the methane emitted from all well sites in the United States while accounting for only 6% of the nation’s oil and gas production. The methane footprint of these small wells is enormous and can’t be ignored. Research shows that the total methane emitted from the country’s half million low-producing wells has the same impact on the climate every year as 88 coal-fired power plants.
The inclusion of routine monitoring at these low-producing well sites is an important step forward in these proposed rules that will go far to protect the health of our children from the impacts of air pollution and climate change. Scientists have known for decades that air pollution is harmful to health, and this is especially true for vulnerable populations such as older adults, people with underlying health conditions, communities of color, pregnant women, and children. Air pollution from the oil and gas industry can cause respiratory diseases, asthma attacks, and increased hospitalizations.
When I started working with Moms Clean Air Force in 2011, my daughter was only 12 years old. I jumped at the chance to make a difference for her future and her health. Now, 11 years later, I wonder if I have done enough. But this step forward by the EPA gives me hope. Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio supports the 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.
On behalf of the more than 88,000 members of Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio, thank you again for the opportunity to offer remarks today.