As a mother living in New Mexico, I worry about the air my kids breathe and the environment they will inherit. New Mexico is currently facing record temperatures, wildfires and drought.
Despite these clear indicators of climate change, the Trump administration is recklessly weakening key parts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules to reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
Methane and associated pollution from the oil and gas industry can cause respiratory diseases, asthma attacks and cancer. Weakening these standards is a blatant attack on the health of children living, learning, and playing near these facilities. In New Mexico, there are over 32,000 children attending schools within a half mile of oil and gas wells, compressors and processors who are being exposed to the potential health impacts of these facilities.
Sadly, New Mexico is also home to the nation’s most concentrated methane pollution “hot spot” hovering above northwest New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. With this and the rapidly expanding drilling in Southeast New Mexico’s Permian Basin, these standards are sorely needed.
Methane pollution also poses a grave danger to our planet. It has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, making it a major driver of climate change. Right now, oil and gas industrial facilities emit at least 8 million metric tons of methane pollution a year. That has the same climate impact as operating over 150 coal-fired power plants for a year, or driving more than 145 million cars for a year! Yikes!
For my kids, and every family across the country, I find this deeply concerning. Instead of weakening the EPA methane rules, which have been in place for over a year, we need to keep them strong to protect New Mexicans and our planet.
New Mexico just elected a new governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has pledged to attack the methane problem with state rules to reduce pollution. We are grateful for her and other local and state leaders who oppose climate-disrupting pollution.
However, Trump is working to create huge loopholes for oil and gas companies to pollute our atmosphere. It is unconscionable that our federal government wants to weaken or revoke safeguards that protect our children from harmful oil and gas air pollution. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Now is the time to cut climate pollution to head off the worst impacts.
If Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Trump succeed, the health of many across New Mexico will suffer.
That is why it is so important for all New Mexicans to make our voices heard on or before Dec. 17 when the comment period on this proposed rollback closes.
Tell Wheeler and Trump that we oppose their attacks on our health before it’s too late.
Our well being depends on it.