The Evangelical Environmental Network applauds the newly announced partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide up to $350 million in funding for states to identify and permanently reduce methane emissions from low-producing (marginal) conventional oil and gas wells as part of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program. The Methane Emissions Reduction Program, made possible through the Inflation Reduction Act, is central to stopping wasteful and dangerous methane leaks that harm our children’s health and contaminate God’s amazing creation.
Leaking oil and gas infrastructure spews harmful pollution like methane, benzene, other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and toxins that threaten our children’s right to achieve their God-given potential.
A multitude of studies link living in proximity to natural gas development and methane production to birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord, and to lower birth weight. This, in turn, is associated with breathing problems and immature lungs, bleeding inside the brain, serious inflammation of the intestines (necrotizing enterocolitis), and long-term complications like cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and developmental delay.
Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas 86-times more potent than CO2 in the first twenty years – making fugitive and leaking methane an imperative for any hope of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C by 2050 or sooner. Methane is responsible for at least one-quarter of the climate warming we are experiencing today. Warmer temperatures also produce more smog, increasing asthma, another serious health concern.
As life-threatening heat waves relentlessly bake communities in the US and across the world, state-of-the-art research reveals that this summer’s extreme temperatures would be "virtually impossible" without the influence of human-caused climate change, including wasteful emissions of methane.
The good news is that research also indicates cutting methane leaks is the fastest way to slow down global heating now.
To meet the moment and ensure a safe future for our children today and for generations to come, we need everyone – people of faith, climate advocates, and energy producers alike – to work together toward positive solutions. The announced Methane Emissions Reduction Program funding opportunity will reduce harmful air pollution associated with oil and gas infrastructure, defend the health of families and children in nearby communities, support the restoration of God’s creation despoiled by oil and gas production, and create much-needed jobs in energy communities, all while improving the economic competitiveness of small and medium-sized oil and gas producers.
In keeping with our biblical call as Christians to “do what is just and right; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed” (Jeremiah 22:3), we urge the EPA and the DOE to prioritize disadvantaged and overburdened communities as they administer funding associated with the Methane Emissions Reduction Program.
 Lisa M. McKenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman, and John L. Adgate, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.1306722.
 Casey J.A., et al., “The association between natural gas well activity and specific congenital anomalies in Oklahoma, 1997-2009,” Environment International, Volume 122, January 2019, 381-388, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412018317999?via=ihub
 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.
 Lissa B Ocko et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 054042