LCV’s Emma DeAngeli Fights for Clean Air, Urges EPA to Rein In Oil and Gas Industry Methane Emissions

Devin Connell, 978-809-7232, dconnell@lcv.org

Yesterday, LCV Government Affairs Fellow and Duke graduate student Emma DeAngeli testified at the EPA’s listening session regarding methane emissions and safeguards. 

Emma urged the EPA to enact regulations reducing methane emissions up to 90% by 2025. These regulations will help fight the climate crisis and reduce air pollution in communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by methane emissions.

Read Emma’s full testimony below:

Emma DeAngeli, LCV Government Affairs Fellow:

Good evening. My name is Emma DeAngeli and I am a current master’s student at Duke University and a fellow at the League of Conservation Voters. I am here to urge the EPA to enact regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector 65% by 2025 and 90% by 2030.

The oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane. As a whole, the industry releases 16 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere per year from flaring unwanted byproducts of production or as leakages in infrastructure. We know that methane is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases and that its effect is 84 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Clearly, methane from the oil and gas industry is fueling climate change, and as public awareness of the climate crisis has grown, so has the public calls for methane pollution reductions. 

I earned my undergraduate degrees at the University of Oklahoma, so I’ve gotten to know the oil and gas industry’s impacts on people and the planet. Oklahomans are no strangers to facing disruptions to our lives from the climate change that methane and other greenhouse gases are causing. An OU professor attributed record low temperatures to arctic winds that climate change forced into the south. And from what we’ve seen in the news about the weather’s effect on the power grid in Texas, it’s clear that infrastructure in these areas is ill-prepared to handle such low temperatures. Unfortunately, storms and extreme weather events like this will only become more frequent if the oil and gas industry is allowed to continue to release more methane in the atmosphere. Methane regulations for the oil and gas industry are needed to slow climate change and mitigate extreme weather like this, and to mitigate the worry I have for my friends and for the place I called home for four years.

Further, we know that climate change has a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. In my environmental justice class, I learned about the many ways in which climate change impacts and pollution have fallen on communities of color, like the methane cloud over the Navajo Nation that exemplifies the disproportionate pollution burden and historic lack of tribal consultation in decision making processes. But along with the egregious acceleration of climate change that methane spurs, the drilling process itself has serious health effects on nearby communities. Flaring—a common practice in the oil and gas industry—also releases volatile organic compounds like benzene (which creates ground-level ozone) that have deleterious respiratory effects on surrounding communities. And all too often, these communities are low-income and communities of color. More regulation of methane would mean more justice for these residents whose health is being jeopardized.

Big oil and gas companies are facing mounting public pressure from frontline communities and environmental groups. These companies, who have been willfully ignoring the threats of climate change caused by their actions and spending billions on greenwashed lobbying efforts, are starting to report reductions in their methane emissions. But at the same time, they are also transferring their most egregiously polluting sites to smaller, unknown companies. Thus, even though it looks like these big companies are polluting less, the same amount of methane is still entering the atmosphere. We cannot rely on these companies to take the necessary action on their own. The oil and gas industry will not do enough to stop their contributions to climate change without the EPA taking action. The EPA must quickly move forward new rules under the Clean Air Act to reign in methane pollution from the oil and gas industry to both solve the climate crisis and deliver on President Biden’s commitment to environmental justice. 

Thank you for your time.

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