Consortium Statement on the EPA Supplemental Proposal to Reduce Methane and Other Pollutants From the Oil and Gas Industry

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal in late 2022 to update and strengthen standards to reduce methane and volatile organic compounds from the oil and natural gas sector.

Below is a statement from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health, which can be attributed to Dr. Lisa Patel, Executive Director. The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health brings together 46 medical societies to protect all people from the devastating health impacts of climate change and climate-related pollutants. The Consortium represents over 700,000 physicians across the U.S.

“The proposal to implement new measures to reduce methane and other harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry has the potential to both help clean up air pollution and address climate change. The science is clear that methane is a potent greenhouse gas and oil and natural gas operations are the nation’s largest industrial source of that methane.

We are also concerned about the health impacts of pollutants emitted during the extraction and production of methane—most notably volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that increase ground-level ozone (smog)—which worsens asthma and respiratory disease, causes nervous system and developmental harms, and causes cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of VOCs and smog.

We strongly support measures in the proposed rule that would be a significant step in reducing methane and other harmful pollutant emissions from the oil and gas industry. Measures of particular importance include:

– Closing a loophole in the leak detection and repair (LDAR) standards by requiring regular monitoring at all oil and gas wells with equipment known to malfunction

– Requiring regular leak monitoring at all wells, regardless of their size

– Expanding zero-emission equipment requirements

– Adding requirements to help prevent abandoned and unplugged wells

– Establishing a program to more quickly address “super emitters” leaking large amounts of methane

Climate change is a health emergency: Our member physicians are seeing the health impacts of climate change in their patients and communities every day. These impacts disproportionately harm our most vulnerable patients, including children, pregnant individuals, the elderly, people of color, and communities living in poverty, and these impacts are worsening with every increment of increased warming. To avoid catastrophic climate change, we must reduce methane and other climate pollutant emissions as quickly as possible. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas; oil and natural gas operations are the nation’s largest industrial source of methane.

We strongly urge EPA to increase the health protections in the rule by establishing a firm timeline for the elimination of venting of methane and an end to the practice of routine flaring. We need the EPA to finalize this rule as quickly as possible. Every day of delay is a missed opportunity to protect health, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.”

Help us underscore the importance of finalizing the strongest possible safeguards quickly to protect public health and slow climate change. Explore this methane toolkit from the Climate Action Campaign and the Methane Partners Campaign for message guidance, sample statements, instructions on submitting a public comment, and sample social posts.