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December 14, 2018

Testimony in Support of Bold Steps to Curb Methane Emissions — Stephanie Myers

This testimony was written for the Dec. 13 meeting of the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee Meeting regarding proposed methane regulations.  Contact LAMPa for guidance in submitting your own testimony on behalf of our common home.

First, I would like to thank the DEP for adopting standards to address the issue of methane leaks from new natural gas infrastructure and for proposing a rule for existing sources within the industry.

I have had grave concerns for most of my adult life about how the natural systems that support our existence are undervalued and taken for granted. As a result of this tendency, we only realize the value of these natural mechanisms after we have visited great harm upon them. I have seen this from the perspective of a science educator, as well as a person of faith. More recently, my concern has taken on an urgency as I view these events from the perspective of a grandparent. Time seems to be running out for me to impact the direction of the future.

Anyone need only hear the names Harvey, Irma and Maria to be reminded that more extreme weather events are coming more frequently, and with them, more frequent destruction.

Wildfire season is now year-round, due to drought, causing loss of property and life. Sea-level rise, from warming oceans, is already engulfing our coastlines. Ocean acidification is threatening vital components of marine food chains.

Insects have found our state most hospitable due to warmer winters, causing increases in Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and the parasitic invasions that are decimating Northeast forests. These are all facts that I have taught to teenagers in a public school classroom for some years now. But the learning of these facts seems not to have made it into places of governmental decision-making.

It’s mystifying that there is such a disconnect between the natural gas policies and the climate crisis in which we presently find ourselves. The image of natural gas as a wonderful gift, the medicine that is the answer for PA’s ailing economy, hides an ugly truth behind the curtain. That truth is the direct cause-and-effect relationship between methane release and our increasingly degraded planet. The latest IPCC report gives us a scant 10 years to reduce fossil fuel use before our planet begins the process by which it will be largely inhospitable to humans and life in general.

Our public policy on this issue needs to start reflecting the reality. This is not the time for half-measures. This is the time for bold action that recognizes the direct relationship between the methane escaping needlessly from natural gas infrastructure and the destructive consequences of an ever-warming climate.

Bold action means plugging the methane leaks in every possible application. Bold action means that the rule on existing operations must be every bit as comprehensive and far-reaching as the rule on new and modified operations. Please be bold in your oversight. The stakes are high.

Thank you.

Stephanie Myers

(Stephanie Myers is a retired science teacher and a  member of St. Mark’s Lutheran in York, Lower Susquehanna Synod.)

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