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Methane Pollution


The Problem with Methane

Methane pollution is an issue that negatively affects millions of people across the U.S. New geospatial analysis released by Earthworks and FracTracker shows that more than 17.3 million people – including 3.9 million children – live within the half-mile health threat radius of active oil and gas production operations. This makes addressing fugitive and leaking methane from both existing and new oil/gas facilities a moral responsibility.
The medical community has long known that unborn children are especially vulnerable to environmental impacts. Of these impacts, fossil fuels are the most serious threat to children’s health worldwide. The once-held belief that a pregnant mother gives chemical protection to her developing child is untrue. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, soot, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. Research by Dr. Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh found close proximity to unconventional gas wells in Butler County, PA is associated with babies born with lower birthweight. Additionally, Dr. Lisa M. McKenzie with the Colorado School of Public Health published peer reviewed research that links birth defects to methane production. Research by Casey J.A., et al (2019) further describes that living within a half-mile radius of natural gas development leads to increased brain, spine, or spinal cord birth defects.
Additionally, methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, 86 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 20-year timeframe. As a result, methane pollution contributes to extreme weather events and additional health risks associated with a warming climate. Addressing methane pollution and leaks is one of the most efficient, cost-effective ways to combat warming in the short term.

What You Can Do

In December 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized standards to curb wasteful methane emissions and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and gas sector. At EEN Action, we celebrated this important milestone for cutting climate-warming methane and associated toxins that have numerous negative impacts on public health, particularly that of our children.

According to the EPA, these safeguards will prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane being released into the atmosphere from 2024 to 2038, helping the U.S. reach our national climate goals and responsibilities under the Global Methane Pledge. Additionally, the finalized standards will help avoid up to 1,500 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks each year while also creating thousands of new, family-sustaining careers in manufacturing, construction, and maintenance operations.

Unfortunately, these critical safeguards are now under attack. Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would repeal these protections and seek to stop similar standards on methane pollution in the future. Join us in telling our leaders in Congress that they must oppose this harmful resolution that would undermine our children’s health and future by sending a message.

Speak Out Now