EPA releases improved standards to reduce methane emissions and air pollution from oil and gas operations, taking critical step to protect Latinx communities

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Nov 11, 2022

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt - Today, in the midst of climate negotiations on the world stage and ahead of President Biden’s speech at COP27, the EPA announced the release of draft supplemental rules 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 released by EPA in 2021 and comes after steadfast advocacy from the climate, public health and environmental justice community. 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.


“Latinx communities are at the frontlines of the climate crisis and each day that strong climate action is not taken, is a day we are put in harm’s way. The release of this rule comes at a time where the U.S., among other developed and polluting nations, is significantly behind on their climate goals as has been evident at this year’s COP27. Finalizing this rule and addressing methane emissions from oil and gas operations is a critical low-hanging fruit to curb the effects of the climate crisis that are disproportionately impacting our comunidades.” said Irene Burga, GreenLatinos Climate Justice & Clean Air Director.


The 1.6 million Latinx 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 effects of extreme heat, drought, and other severe weather events.


Included in the proposal are provisions to strengthen leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements especially for small wells with leak-prone equipment; expand zero-emitting pneumatic equipment requirements; launch an expanded community monitoring program; and require better address abandoned oil wells through post-closure survey requirements. Still, there is more work to be done to ensure that the strongest possible methane safeguards are finalized by EPA to address climate change and protect public health, including ending the wasteful practice of routine venting and flaring which contributes to localized air pollution in our communities.


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.


We look forward to reviewing the proposal more closely in the coming days and engaging our Latinx community in EPA’s public comment process to ensure we have the strongest possible safeguards in place to tackle climate change, protect public health, and keep our communities safe.


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GreenLatinos is an active comunidad of Latino/a/x 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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GreenLatinos es una comunidad activa de líderes latinos/a/x, envalentonados por el poder y la sabiduría de nuestra cultura, unidos para exigir equidad y desmantelar el racismo, con recursos para ganar nuestras batallas ambientales, de conservación y de justicia climática, y impulsados a asegurar nuestra liberación política, económica, cultural y ambiental.