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Six New Mexico mothers will advocate for strict methane regulations at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing in Dallas on Thursday.
Celerah Hewes, an Albuquerque mother of a 6-year-old daughter and field director for New Mexico’s chapter of the Moms Clean Air Force, said women and minorities should speak up about methane.
“It’s important to hear from families on this issue, and to let the EPA know that it’s not just about economic impact,” Hewes said. “We as women are heavily impacted by air pollution from the oil and gas industry, but we don’t make up a lot of that industry’s employment force.”
Methane is a greenhouse gas and a main ingredient in natural gas. When the earth’s surface radiates solar energy back into the atmosphere as heat, greenhouse gases and other pollutants form a blanket over the earth and prevent that heat from escaping. That leads to global increases in temperature.
EPA proposed rule changes in August to reduce methane monitoring for oil and gas pipelines and wells.
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Ryan Flynn said the group is not sending anyone to the hearing. NMOGA has presented its own plan to cut methane emissions. That plan aligns closely with the EPA rule changes.
Companies drilling for oil may flare or vent natural gas if they don’t have infrastructure to store or transport the product. Faulty equipment can leak more methane into the atmosphere.
New Mexico is creating methane regulations and working with Descartes Labs to use satellite data in tracking emissions.
Mothers from Farmington, Carlsbad, Albuquerque and Santa Fe will testify in Dallas. They will be joined by mothers from other oil and gas producing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.
“As parents, we see kids getting passionate and taking action, like with the climate strike in Albuquerque,” Hewes said. “This is a way for adults to support and listen to them. We should speak up as responsible voters.”
Each woman will present five minutes of testimony, an opportunity Hewes said is worth the trip.
Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal. Visit reportforamerica.org to learn about the effort to place journalists in local newsrooms around the country.