Last month, I traveled to New York City to join the People’s Climate March. Over 400,000 people came from across the country to tell President Obama that the time to act on climate is now, because we don’t have time to spare. We are already feeling the effects of climate change across the globe.
Fracking-enabled oil and gas production is a major source of climate pollution – the second largest in the country after fossil fuel combustion. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is 86 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Thousands impacted by fracking came to NYC to show their support for climate action and a quick transition away from fossil fuels.
Last week, over 125 local, national and state groups called on President Obama to directly regulate methane pollution from oil and gas production. The EPA has the power to drastically reduce climate pollution from drilling and fracking and the consequences, both globally and locally, are too dire to allow the industry to continue to pollute. When methane is released into our air, it not only impacts the climate, it also impacts our health. Along with methane, hazardous air pollutants are released, including carcinogens like benzene, and smog-forming pollutants called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. To make sure our voices were heard, the groups took out an ad in the Washington Post, calling for swift action on air pollution from fracking.
Last June, President Obama said, “curbing methane emissions is critical to our overall effort to address climate change.” It’s time for him to put words into action and regulate the largest source of industrial methane pollution – oil and gas drilling.
We need to regulate methane in the short term, to lessen the climate footprint of oil and gas production and protect nearby communities. But, no matter how stringent the methane pollution controls, they are no substitute for dropping dirty fossil fuels like fracked gas and replacing them with truly clean alternatives like conservation and renewables.