Today, the Obama Administration released the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) methane rule, aimed at curbing natural gas waste on public and tribal lands. It’s a win-win regulation. The standard will help to end the waste of valuable public resources, limit emissions of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants, and mitigate climate change.
See full statements from local health professionals. See also our Press Release.
For Immediate Release, November 15, 2016
Obama Administration finalizes rule that will protect public health in the Four Corners
“Although I am concerned about methane, I am even more concerned about the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) co-emitted with the methane during the production of natural gas. It is estimated that 60,000 tons of VOCs are emitted every year in the New Mexico portion alone of the San Juan Basin. These VOCs include known carcinogens such as benzene and, when associated with oxides of nitrogen from coal fired generating plants, they form ozone. Together these pollutants cause or exacerbate respiratory illnesses such asthma and increase illness and death in the area where I live.
“Because control of methane emissions will also control VOC emissions, I strongly support the BLM methane rule. Other advantages of this rule include decreasing climate change and increasing salable natural gas—this is a win-win proposition! Thank you for writing and passing this rule.”
Richard Grossman, M.D., M.P.H.
“The BLM Methane Rule would not only reduce wasteful release of methane into the atmosphere but also, as per the American Lung Association, reducing methane can also clean up other co-air pollutants that scientists have linked to cancer, asthma and hospital admissions for respiratory problems.”
Pakhi Chaudhuri, M.D.
Pediatric Associates of Durango
“As a general internal medicine physician in the Four Corners area for 13 years, I support the proposed BLM methane rules. The methane and VOCs emitted through oil and gas infrastructure pose ongoing and immediate threats to the health and well-being of local communities. Ozone pollution formed by the combination of VOCs and methane causes increased ER visits, hospitalizations, and school absenteeism due to the detrimental effects on the lungs and respiratory system of the human body. Children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable to suffering poor health consequences from ozone pollution.
“Furthermore, methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and through such effects causes an even greater threat to the long-term health of humans. As the climate warms, we see increasing death and disease due to heat-related illness, respiratory illnesses, allergies, insect-borne diseases, water-borne diseases, food insecurity, water insecurity, and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress related to worsening natural disasters. Agriculture and fresh water resources are imperiled by a warming climate, which in turn leads to food shortages and malnourishment of millions of people.
“A sense of urgency is upon us as the World Health Organization projects 250,000 people will die yearly starting in 2030 due to the health impacts of a warming climate. Limiting the emissions of methane supports the well-being of the people of the Four Corners area as well as the health of people throughout the globe.”
Robin E. Richard, M.D.
“The New Mexico chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility applauds and totally supports the new BLM restrictions on methane waste. Methane and its associated waste products have been shown to be harmful to people’s health, and restricting waste is a strong step in the right direction.”
Robert Bernstein, M.D.
NM Physicians for Social Responsibility
Santa Fe, New Mexico