On July 10, several Pennsylvania religious leaders traveled to Washington DC to offer in-person testimony to the EPA regarding delay of implementation of New Source Performance Standards for Methane emissions from oil and gas operations. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505
My name is Joy Bergey, and I testify today as the director of the Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church. We are based in Philadelphia, PA.
As I was preparing this testimony, I heard clearly in my mind the life lessons my mother taught me decades ago:
- Clean up after yourself.
- Spend your money wisely.
- Leave things better than you found them.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- And most of all, always be fair.
These simple messages embody our testimony on delaying the proposed rule.
Let’s start with the most important: Always be fair. This is at the heart of our work at the Environmental Justice Center. We are particularly concerned about environmental racism, which occurs when communities of color are hurt disproportionately by pollution. That’s not fair, or just.
Refusing to regulate methane pollution exacerbates climate change. And this hurts first and worst our most vulnerable populations: the very young, the very old, those living in poverty, those in fragile health, and almost invariably, communities of color.
In Philadelphia, the asthma rate is 21.5 percent, more than twice the national average. In the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, one in three children has asthma. One in three. A child in Nicetown is about four times as likely to have asthma as an average American child. Nicetown is 85 percent black. Our zipcodes should not determine our health.
Asthma is aggravated by air pollutants, and will worsen with the rising temperatures of climate change, exacerbated by leaking methane. This leakage must be addressed promptly. To choose otherwise is unjust. Or as a child would say, not fair.
Clean up after yourself and spend your money wisely
We know that there are affordable solutions to address methane leakage. But much of industry willingly choses not to utilize them. That’s not acceptable. Solutions are commercially available, with 130 companies around the country providing them. These solutions are profitable for the gas industry, easy to implement, and good for people’s wallets as well as their health.
What’s stopping the industry from cleaning up after itself while boosting their profits? We don’t know. But since they won’t clean up, it’s our responsibility – the government’s responsibility – to see that they do.
Leave things better than you found them
The best solution, the most moral solution, of course, is for the country to move away from fossil fuels, and to build a clean energy economy, dependent on truly renewable fuels like solar and wind, buttressed by energy efficiency.
Requiring natural gas operations to be less dirty, as this standard would do, is necessary, but it’s only a step towards what’s truly needed, a truly clean energy economy.
I’m confident I’m not the only one here who was taught not to put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Let me abundantly clear on this: It is morally unacceptable for any delay, let alone a two-year delay, in implementing this protection.