• April 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 06:58:29 PM

Sierra Club Supporters Submit More than 16,000 Comments to EPA



The public comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s  (EPA) proposed supplemental rule aimed at cutting methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector ended February 13th. The broad coalition of methane rule supporters submitted more than 400,000 comments, more than 16,000 of which came from Sierra Club members and supporters, urging EPA to further strengthen the draft rule and quickly finalize, by summer at the latest, and implement it so communities can realize its emission reduction benefits as soon as possible.


While the comments supported the supplemental rule, which is an improvement over the original draft from 2021, they also urged EPA to impose greater limits on the harmful practice of flaring. These restraints are critical to ensure the strongest possible methane safeguards to mitigate climate change and protect public health. EPA must also widen standards to address emissions from storage tanks and improve and clarify ways in which communities and individuals can report large leaks.


Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, driving approximately one-third of the warming our planet has experienced to date. Each year, the U.S. oil and gas sector emits 16 million metric tons of methane, alongside other damaging and harmful pollutants, into our atmosphere.


In January, over three days of public hearings, 289 advocates across 33 states and 110 organizations testified in support of a strong methane rule. Along with the written comments, it should now be clear to EPA that finalizing maximally protective safeguards against methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is essential to advancing environmental justice, slowing the rate of climate change, and keeping everyone’s air clean and safe to breathe.


“The response to EPA during this public comment period leaves no question: the agency must strengthen and finalize the strongest possible methane rule as swiftly as possible to protect clean air and ensure a stable climate and healthy communities,” Senior Director of Energy Campaigns Kelly Sheehan said. “During the public hearings and this comment period, EPA heard from people who have experienced the harmful impacts of pollution from oil and gas drilling firsthand, who live and work on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and who are counting on the agency to hold these fossil fuel companies accountable. Many of these communities live in states where political leaders have failed to prioritize community protections. We urge EPA–for the benefit of our families, economy, and climate–to incorporate these recommendations into the final rule and to enact the strongest safeguards possible without delay. Nothing less than our lives and planet depends on it.”


Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Organizer Antoinette Reyes said: “It has been more than a year since its initial introduction, so we are looking forward to the finalization of EPA’s methane rule after hundreds of thousands of comments showed clear support for a strong rule that cracks down on leaks. Air pollution knows no boundary, these rules are necessary to protect public health and the environment in New Mexico, as well as in bordering states, like Texas. It is the job of the EPA to create meaningful federal rules that set a minimum standard for new and existing oil and gas operations – it is the best tool we have to protect communities from harmful pollutants. After a huge outpouring of comments from all over the country, it is not critical that a final, strong rule be implemented as soon as possible to ensure that our communities’ air gets cleaned up for healthier, fuller lives.”