Over the next three days, dozens of moms from across the country will testify before EPA at a virtual public hearing on cutting methane and other harmful pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations. This is my testimony:
My name is Dominique Browning, and I’m the director and a co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force, an organization of over 1.4 million parents uniting to protect our children’s health from climate and air pollution.
I support EPA’s updated rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the country. This is an important step toward addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health and safety of children and families.
We got into the fight to stop methane leaks for two reasons: methane is a super-climate forcer—though shorter-lived than the more famous carbon emissions, methane has faster and more terrible consequences to the balance of atmospheric gases that we depend on for life as we know and enjoy it. Methane is a mighty disrupter, trapping much more heat, more powerful than carbon. And methane leaks are entirely preventable—but the government has to do its part, pushing industry players to be responsible producers, less wasteful of what should be considered a precious resource.
But the other reason Moms Clean Air Force fights for strong methane protections is what comes out of the ground along with methane—all the pollutants that are dangerous to our health.
- Benzene, which increases the risk of certain cancers, such as leukemia and kidney cancer, and is linked to immune disorders
- Toluene, which increases the risk of birth defects
- Ethylbenzene, which is toxic to the central nervous system
- Hydrogen sulfide, which can be fatal at high levels
If we reduce methane leaks from natural gas operations, these dangerous pollutants will decline too.
People who live closest to oil and gas operations suffer the most. Public health studies are uncovering links to premature births, congenital heart defects, and neural tube defects.
If this is not the kind of information that breaks your heart—and causes you to take action to stop methane leaks—perhaps you are moved by the economics of leaking methane. It has enormous consequences in revenues for oil and gas companies, to the tune of billions of dollars. It is wasteful.
The oil and gas industry is the single largest source of methane emissions in the US.
But unlike many terrible problems, this is one we can solve. We know what to do. Stop leaks—leaks that happen at every stage of oil and gas development: from the fracturing stage of harvesting the gas, to the pumps, pipelines, well pads, compressor stations, and even from the pipes in the streets as so-called natural gas is brought to our homes. Methane is purposely vented into the air, as well. None of this is necessary.
Members of Moms Clean Air Force have fought hard in statehouses in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Mexico to craft rules to stop methane leaks. We must have action—strong action—from EPA, the administration tasked with protecting human health. It is parents’ job to protect the health of our children and all our loved ones. That’s why this rule has vast moral consequences as well. How can we live in a society that permits poisoning its own people? Now that we have the data on how bad the leaking is, and now that we have the science on the impacts on our health, we can no longer say, “We didn’t know.” We know. And we must act.
It is past time for EPA to do the right thing.