Today, 11 Latino faith leaders from Por la Creación Faith-based Alliance submitted a joint letter to Andrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator, opposing the proposal to weaken the New Source Performance Standards, which have been in place and working for almost a year, strong and in effect to protect communities living near oil and gas development from harmful pollution.
These current standards were designed to limit the release of methane pollution, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas infrastructure, and also to help protect communities from other harmful pollutants released alongside methane, such as benzene and volatile organic compounds. The EPA standards in place right now will reduce emissions from over 36,000 wells all around the country, including cutting 21,635 tons of methane, around 6,000 tons of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and 450,000 pounds of toxic air pollutants, each year.
“EPA has the responsibility to protect Americans from the clear and present health threats from oil and gas pollution, and weakening these rules is an attack on communities located near these facilities who depend on these protections,” said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “This rollback is a blatant attempt to give corporate polluters a free pass to endanger our health and safety. If these critical methane pollution standards are modified, our families will pay the price.”
Latinos across this country, especially children and the elderly, are disproportionately affected by the health impacts of oil and gas development — in fact 1.81 million Latinos live within a half mile of existing facilities. The National Hispanic Medical Association and LULAC report, Latino Communities At Risk: The Impact of Air Pollution from the Oil and Gas Industry, found that many Latino communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to toxic air emissions from oil and gas development.
“Our children are our most valuable resource. We have a moral obligation to clean up our air and ensure that what we breathe doesn't harm our children and communities,” said Juan Almanza, a representative of Por la Creación Faith-based Alliance from Las Vegas, NV. “There is no excuse to not modernize oil and gas development, especially when our health and safety hangs in the balance.”
As faith leaders, Por la Creación Faith-based Alliance, brings common-sense and spiritual guidance to the national discussion about the environmental issues affecting Latinos; therefore, they urge the EPA to keep the 2016 New Source Performance Standards, which will utilize our natural resources responsibly and provide power to our homes, businesses and vehicles.
For a copy of the official letter, visit https://www.hispanicaccess.org/sites/default/files/2018-12-14_PLC-EPA-Methane-Rule.pdf.