Environmental Justice, Public Health, and Frontline Advocates Urge President Biden to Take Immediate Action to Cut Methane Pollution from Oil and Gas Industry
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – Today, advocates from environmental justice, public health, and frontline community groups joined State Representative Sara Innamorato (District 21) at a press conference as part of a nationwide day of action to call on President Biden to take immediate action to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a draft rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the U.S. While the proposal was an important step in the right direction, hundreds of thousands of people submitted public comments urging EPA to go further and address critical gaps in the initial proposed rule. As the White House reviews the updated EPA methane rule, advocates are calling on President Biden to publish the rule as soon as possible to protect communities and our climate now.
“Our neighbors cannot afford the status quo when it comes to regulating the oil and gas industry,” said State Representative Sara Innamorato, District 21. “Inaction and slow responses to reigning in polluting industries continue to negatively impact our land, the public’s health, and the long-term economic future of communities across the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is one of the largest methane emitters in the country, and today we call on the EPA to enact rules that would reduce methane and other harmful pollutants from entering our air and stocking the climate crisis.”
"I have seen first hand the effect that air pollution and climate change has had on both my pediatric and adult patients and the impact is tremendous,” said Dr. Deborah Gentile with East Suburban Pediatrics. “The climate crisis is upon us now and PA must enact this rule now to protect the health of our residents."
“My home, Washington County, is Pennsylvania's most heavily fracked region,” said Lois Bower-Bjornson, Southwest PA Field Organizer with Clean Air Council. “The gas drilling industry exposes frontline communities and the families that inhabit them to unnecessary air pollution from outdated pressure control technology now known to malfunction as well as unnecessary flaring and venting. Southwestern Pennsylvania's communities need a strong rule from the EPA now to eliminate easily avoidable methane and volatile organic compound pollution."
"Protect PT (Penn-Trafford) helps protect public health in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties by engaging in education and advocacy to protect residents from air and water pollution, specifically from the rapidly expanding gas industry,” said Protect PT Executive Director Gillian Graber. “I've seen firsthand the effects of this industry that is often ahead of government regulation, especially in Pennsylvania. We need this EPA rule as soon as possible, particularly to limit methane and volatile organic compound pollution from so-called "low-producing wells" that actually produce 50% of the industry's climate-changing methane pollution."
"In Pennsylvania, over 200,000 children who attend school near oil and gas operations, like mine, need methane pollution protections now," said Patrice Tomcik, a Senior National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force whose children attend the Mars Area schools. "Methane pollution contributes to ozone smog that can damage young lungs and trigger asthma attacks while other harmful pollutants such as benzene also emitted by oil and gas operations can cause respiratory problems, neurological problems, and cancer. Quickly and significantly reducing methane pollution from oil and gas operations is one of the best levers we have to slow the rate of climate change and help clean up the air to protect children’s health. Moms across the state are calling for EPA to quickly release its draft methane rule so we can offer public comments."
Advocates in Washington, DC, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas held similar events highlighting how strong federal methane rules would protect their communities, and echoing calls for immediate action from the Biden administration.
You can watch livestream footage of the rally in Pennsylvania here:
Learn more about how methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is fueling the climate crisis and threatening the health and safety of communities across the country here.