The American Lung Association, along with health and medical professionals from across the country, are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen its proposal to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas operations. On Monday, January 31, EPA will close the comment period for their proposal to enact standards to reduce methane pollution from existing oil and gas wells, in addition to wells that are built in the future.
As of today, the Lung Association, more than 50 other health and medical organizations, more than 300 health professionals and more than 300 individuals signed onto letters urging EPA to go further to protect the health of Americans.
“EPA’s proposal to reduce methane pollution is a good start but needs to be strengthened to protect health and address climate change. The agency needs to set more protective final standards to require that the oil and gas industry take the strongest steps possible to prevent fugitive emissions of methane and other gases from their operations, and halt all routine flaring of these pollutants,” said Harold Wimmer, national President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Stronger limits on methane pollution will have immediate benefits. Not only will they meaningfully curb greenhouse gases and help combat climate change, but they will also improve our health by reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which means it contributes to climate change. In fact, methane is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas. It has been shown to leak into the atmosphere during every stage of the natural gas production process. Climate change is a public health emergency, and quickly and dramatically reducing methane pollution is an essential step to preventing the worst climate impacts. VOCs from oil and gas operations form ozone and can cause cancer, affect the nervous system or cause birth defects. People who live near oil and gas wells are especially vulnerable and their health can be disproportionately harmed by VOCs.
“We urge EPA to strengthen the proposal and then finalize the methane rules as quickly as possible. There is no time to waste, and we cannot miss out on this opportunity to protect health, particularly for the most vulnerable populations,” Wimmer added.
These comments follow a public hearing on EPA’s proposal, during which dozens of health and medical professionals testified and shared stories about how oil and gas pollution and climate change were harming their patients, calling on EPA to take action to curb this pollution.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.