Opinion: Methane is a ‘super pollutant’ that the federal government must help keep out of our air

Oil pumps and natural gas burn off in Watford City, N.D. on June 12, 2014.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

To the editor: Kudos to The Times Editorial Board for calling on the U.S. Senate to defend existing methane emission regulations. Protecting against methane releases is critical to ensure cleaner air and improved public health. (“Senate should stand up for environment and not block Obama methane regulation,” editorial, Feb. 27)

Methane is considered a super pollutant that is far more harmful than carbon pollution in its first 20 years in the atmosphere. These types of greenhouse gas emissions lead to more severe weather events like this winter’s floods, California’s prolonged drought, and raging wildfires in the summer.

Climate change can also cause more ground-level ozone pollution, leading to an increase in asthma attacks, hospitalizations and premature deaths.

California state regulators are set to adopt the country’s strongest oil and gas regulations this month. As California moves forward, we urge the federal government not to take a step back. We must continue to fight for clean air protections because if we can’t breathe, nothing else matters.


Olivia Diaz-Lapham, Los Angeles

The writer is president and chief executive of the American Lung Assn. of California.

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