Cutting methane pollution will turn the tide in our fight against climate change. 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and much less regulated, methane pollution exacerbates health disparities in disadvantaged communities and is contributing to the too-fast warming of our climate. Laredoans are already feeling the effects of climate change through prolonged periods of drought and extreme temperatures. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Biden Administration can reduce this harmful pollution by finalizing the strongest methane rule possible this summer.
Too many communities face the impacts of methane pollution from the oil and gas sector day in and day out. A 2023 geospatial analysis by Earthworks and FracTracker found that more than 75,331 of Laredoans, including 24,427 children under 18 reside within a half-mile health threat radius of active oil and gas production operations.
People who live close to active oil and gas sites experience airway damage, aggravating lung disease, asthma attacks, increased preterm birth rates, cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and heightened stroke risk, all due to methane pollution. And this could only get worse without action now. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that, in the past two years, atmospheric methane has reached new highs. Without radical changes to how we regulate methane, 2023 is likely to be no different.
In 2021, President Biden pledged to cut greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030. This is his chance to make good on this promise. In a study from the same year, the Environmental Protection Agency found that methane makes up for 12% of greenhouse gas pollution, and the majority of this pollution comes from the oil and gas sector. The longer the administration waits, the less attainable this critical goal becomes.
Regulating methane pollution will not hurt the economy. Instead, it will bolster a new industry: methane mitigation. According to a report from Datu Research, the methane mitigation service sector in the U.S. has nearly doubled in size since 2017, and the manufacturing industry has grown by one-third since 2014. With the majority of this industry being small businesses, cutting methane pollution is a win-win for our health, climate, and local economies.
This summer, the Biden administration has an opportunity to enact a methane rule that cuts harmful pollution, boosts the economy, and protects public health. Texas does not have to fall behind while other states are already thinking about ways to mitigate methane and taking advantage of the millions of dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act. While we wait for President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency to finish the job, we will continue to fight for the strongest methane rule possible. There is no time to waste!