A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network
Fixing natural gas leaks on public lands is pro-life and good stewardship. That is why we oppose the Trump Administration’s rule released today to delay by one year the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) regulation to reduce methane pollution on public lands under BLM’s jurisdiction.
Our chief concern is with reducing pollution that harms human health, especially that of children and the unborn. On that score, this BLM rule is pure gobbledygook. Here’s an example:
“The BLM acknowledges that there will be a short-term increase in the amount of methane and VOCs emitted during the 1-year delay, relative to the baseline, but there will be essentially no increase over the 11-year evaluation period … While the BLM did not monetize the forgone benefits from VOC emissions reductions, it notes that the impact is transitory.” [p56]
So, there will be a short-term increase in pollution that hurts kids and the unborn — which, of course, will probably turn into a long-term increase once the Trump Administration’s real goal of gutting the rule is put into effect.
But for now we’ll concentrate on this short-term increase. We’re supposed to be placated with the idea that over time things will get better, and therefore “the impact is transitory.”
This displays a profound ignorance of what many forms of pollution do to the human body, whose impacts last a lifetime; they are in no way “transitory.” The bodily harm of this increase in pollution will not average out. The children harmed during this delay will live with this for the rest of their lives.
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 nearly 92,000 pro-life Christians from 21 affected states want strong action to reduce pollution from leaks in our natural gas infrastructure and from venting and flaring. These things 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; for those near production sites the emissions have been linked to birth defects and pre-term births.
For these reasons we strongly oppose this delay. Plain and simple: it hurts the unborn; it hurts kids; it’s wrong.