EPA's Methane Rule Marks Progress, but GreenLatinos Urges Accelerated Action for Full Fossil Fuel Phase-Out

WASHINGTON — Today, in the midst of climate negotiations on the COP28 world stage, the EPA announced the release of the agency’s final rule to cut methane emissions and other co-pollutants from existing U.S. oil and gas facilities.

The long-awaited rule improves upon the standards in the original draft rule and the supplemental rule released last year. With estimated reductions of 58 million metric tons of methane (1.5 billion tons CO2e) and 16 million tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) between 2024 and 2038, the final rule will not only have significant reduction in climate pollution but will achieve tremendous public health benefits, particularly for those living in the frontlines of extraction.

The 1.8 million Latine people living near active oil and gas operations find themselves at increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular issues, respiratory illnesses, and much more from the co-pollutants released alongside methane, including volatile organic compounds. Even those not living near active fossil fuel operations find themselves bearing the brunt of the climate crisis as they face the effects of extreme heat, drought, and other severe weather events. This rule has been a long time coming, with over a decade of steadfast advocacy from climate, public health, and environmental justice communities.

This rule is an important step in the right direction to reduce methane emissions, a powerful climate polluter and contributor to local air pollution due to the co-pollutants emitted during oil and gas operations. The proposal includes provisions to strengthen leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements, expand zero-emitting pneumatic equipment requirements, launch a super emitter air monitoring program, and better address air pollution from flaring. While the proposed rules are an important step in protecting our communities from existing oil and gas infrastructure, we must continue working toward a complete phase-out of fossil fuel operations. No amount of fossil fuel development is compatible with healthy and equitable communities, and we continue demanding that President Biden and his Administration work toward ensuring a just transition to a clean energy economy.

GreenLatinos Climate Justice & Clean Air Director, Irene Burga released the following statement:

"Today marks a significant triumph for our communities, and we extend our gratitude to the Biden Administration for taking decisive and long-awaited climate action by finalizing the EPA's methane oil and gas rule. The historical and systemic impact of climate and air pollution from oil and gas production on communities of color cannot be understated. With 1.8 million Latines in the U.S. residing within a half-mile of an oil and gas facility, the imperative to curb methane emissions is paramount. It addresses the urgent need to confront the climate and health emergency and rectify environmental injustices. As we celebrate this milestone, the real work lies ahead — ensuring robust implementation and enforcement for an immediate positive impact on communities and the climate. It is also imperative that as this critical step is taken, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal: navigating away from dirty fossil fuels altogether while paving the way for a just transition to a 100% clean energy future and achieving true environmental justice."

GreenLatinos CO State Fossil Fuel and Just Transition Advocate Patricia Nelson released the following statement:

“For generations, Latino communities across the US and Colorado have been burdened by oil and gas infrastructure and pollution. Not only do communities like mine deserve the strongest protections possible, but we must ensure adequate outreach and technical assistance. We want to see successful reduction and implementation efforts. The EPA should not claim this as a victory until we can see real changes in our quality of life.”


About GreenLatinos

GreenLatinos (NOTE: GreenLatinos is ONE WORD) is an active comunidad of Latino/a/e leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.

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