A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)
Today the Bureau of Land Management proposed new standards for natural gas waste from flaring, venting, and leaks from production operations on public and Indian lands. We applaud the BLM’s actions and are thankful this standard will help defend our children from the threats that fugitive methane releases have on our unborn and born children.
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, pollution that impacts them even before they take their first breath. The medical community has long known of the environmental impacts on our unborn children. The once thought chemical protection a mother gives her developing child is untrue. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. A recent study by Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh found evidence of low birthweight babies associated with proximity to unconventional natural gas wells in Butler County, PA, and Lisa M. McKenzie, Colorado School of Public Health, published peer reviewed research linking birth defects to methane production. The authors admit more research is needed, but the initial conclusions in of themselves demand action to reduce natural gas releases.
In addition to wasting enough natural gas to heat 5.1 million homes, the venting and leaks spew out smog precursors as well and, as such, add to our failing air quality. The United States has 35.1 million kids with asthma according to the American Lung Association and much of our nation’s air exceeds limits for both ozone (smog) and particulates (soot) emissions, making the need to stop natural gas leaks urgent.
These leaks threaten our most vulnerable, as shared earlier, and also add to climate disruption. We want our loved ones, the unborn, and those yet to be born to inherit a world free of climate change. Yet, today from our natural gas infrastructure large amounts of methane are being released, a climate pollutant 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide, trapping heat over a 20 year time frame. These next 20 years that will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost. That is why reducing methane is morally strategic.
For these reasons, 177,687 pro-life Christians from primarily CO, NM, OH, and PA, told the Obama Administration they wanted action on natural gas leaks.
As pro-life Christians, we want the air that we breathe to be safe for our children. Leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out toxic pollutants, cancer-causing agents and climate pollution that place God's creation and our families - especially children, pregnant mothers, and the unborn - in harm's way. That's why we call on our elected officials to support strong regulations to cut this pollution from both new and existing leaks from our natural gas infrastructure. Our children deserve nothing less.
If we care for our children, now and in the future, let’s work together to reduce methane and other pollutants that foul our air, our water and most importantly our children’s lives. It’s the right thing to do.
One thing we promise: we will not stop until pollution from the natural gas infrastructure is no longer a threat. Join us in making our world a safer and healthier place. Let’s fix these natural gas leaks.
 Stacy SL, Brink LL, Larkin JC, Sadovsky Y, Goldstein BD, Pitt BR, et al. (2015) Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126425. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126425, downloaded September 28, 2015, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126425
 Lisa M. McKenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman, and John
Adgate, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas
Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.1306722. downloaded September 28, 2015, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1306722/#tab3