Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:
Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an important step in the right direction on protecting our children from pollution that threatens their health.
While our country has made important progress in the last 50 years, air pollution continues to be a serious health threat, and has been increasing in areas where the Oil and Gas Industry have been active. This is especially the case with natural gas production and distribution. Leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out smog precursors, as well as other toxic pollutants and cancer-causing agents like benzene. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb.
As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn. We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution even before they take their first breadth.
That’s why we at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) have organized nearly 92,000 evangelicals from 21 affected states to call on the EPA for strong action to reduce this pollution. I personally have been encouraging my senior level contacts at EPA to make progress on pollution from existing natural gas infrastructure.
That’s why we are grateful for yesterday's action by the EPA to issue guidelines to industry, known as Control Technique Guidelines, on how to clean up this pollution. According to the EPA, if fully implemented VOCs would be reduced by 80,000 tons per year, methane (a potent greenhouse gas) by 200,000 tons, and air toxics by 3,000 tons.
The Oil and Gas Industry has fought to prevent government agencies from protecting the public against the causes of smog for 60 years, beginning with the fight in Los Angeles to tackle smog. So it comes as no surprise that they oppose this latest effort by the EPA. Their rhetoric is the same today as it was 60 years ago.
In contrast, we would like to see the process move faster and cover all sources, including those from so-called “low-producing wells,” which account for a significant amount of emissions. The guidelines released today don’t include these wells, but also don’t exclude them from future regulatory action.
We are grateful for the leadership of President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy, and the work of the EPA staff on these guidelines. We look forward to working with the next Administration to build upon and improve this effort.