Lexi is Earthworks’ Communications Intern.
On Monday, more than 150 speakers testified before the Environmental Protection Agency at a public hearing concerning the proposed two-year delay of implementing the methane pollution rule.
The rule regulates methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas 86 times worse for climate than carbon dioxide, that is released during oil and gas drilling and fracking. Even though EPA acknowledges that methane is a potent greenhouse gas, Trump’s new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt claims the EPA needs more time to reconsider the rule.
The threat from methane doesn’t stop there. While oil and gas companies release millions of metric tons of methane into the air every year, health-harming hitchhiker pollutants are released at the same time, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Use the Oil and Gas Threat Map to see the extent of this pollution and why we need these rules to protect our health.
In order to demonstrate the extent of methane pollution in the United States Earthworks hired an electronic LED billboard truck to park outside the EPA headquarters and play infrared video footage of methane pollution from across the country. Many activists and impacted community members stopped by to see the pollution with their own eyes, and provided testimony in support of implementing strong, federal methane pollution rules now. We held a Facebook live stream for those who wished to share their testimony online.
98% of the speakers who testified at the hearing opposed delaying or reconsidering the proposed rule; many gave testimony from their own experience of the negative impacts from methane pollution in their communities.
“We are in our third oil boom in North Dakota and we are only now seeing federal regulations rolled out to protect the environment. Sadly, as quickly as they’ve been written- they are being repealed without consideration of how the people living near oil and gas will be impacted. Allowing oil and gas companies to continue to willfully pollute our air leaves the most vulnerable of the population at risk, those with asthma, like myself, children and our elderly,” said Nicole Donaghy, field organizer for the Dakota Resource Council, during her testimony.
It is astonishing to witness the amount of distress and pain these families have experienced as a direct result of oil and gas companies. Yet after all they’ve been through, they are still fighting for the public’s right for clean air, land and water, and the future health and safety of not only their own families, but all families. The spirit and passion these individuals portray is inspiring, ultimately growing the chorus of voices willing to speak out to demand clean air.