Josh Eisenfeld to EPA: oil and gas companies won’t save us but you can

Josh provided the below comment live to the EPA during its June 15, 2021 methane public listening session to provide input on the rule it will publish this September to cut oil and gas production’s methane pollution.


Hello and thank you for the opportunity to speak. My name is Josh Eisenfeld I am the Corporate Accountability Campaigner at Earthworks and I am from the stolen land of the Osage and Shawnee people today known as Pittsburgh, PA. 

I testify here today because of a truth we all know: that the fate of people is inextricably intertwined with the health of our environment. The world is changing already and far too much of that change is out of our control. No longer are we struggling to stop climate change. We are fighting to mitigate it so it is just a crisis in our lifetimes and not a catastrophe during our children’s.  

And so I am before you today to share my experience with both the industry and the communities they operate in and urge you to use every tool under the law and cut methane pollution 65% in the next 5 years

My job at Earthworks is to push the oil and gas industry to close the growing chasm between what they say and what they do. I wish I could tell you that companies are keeping their promises. I wish I could tell you that we were curbing methane pollution due to the bold voluntary efforts that companies have made over the last few years. But, despite their bold commitments, the science repeatedly shows that methane pollution is on the rise, in fact it is rising faster than ever and all signs point to the oil and gas industry as the major contributor.

Representatives of the industry here today have and will say a lot of things that we all would love to be true. They’ll say greenhouse gas pollution is decreasing and natural gas is the reason. That, thanks to their voluntary efforts, methane pollution is a problem they have under control. That they have already committed to emissions reductions inline with the Paris Agreements. But that is not the truth.

My and my organization’s work proves they are not living up to those promises. All the companies that have made methane pollution commitments are funding tens of millions of dollars to trade associations that have lobbied against them. And as the International Energy Agency’s most recent report explains, no company with plans to explore new oil fields, which they all are, is in line with the Paris agreement. Furthermore, no company, whether they are making promises to reduce their pollution or not, has a solid grasp of just how much they are polluting. How could they, when no company supports rules requiring leak checks just one time per month? Think about what that says…

And while they will tell you they care about people and the local economies, no advocate for industry is getting paid today to lobby to improve the economies of geographic regions in which they operate. Their measure of success is their bottom line. 

I say this not  to discredit their relevance to this discussion. Rather, to remind you that they are not paid based on the long-term success of our planet, or our country, or the health of residents living next to their operations. The score of their success is only determined by the amount of zeros at the end of their earnings statements. The voluntary promises they are making to you don’t cost them a dollar, but implementing them does. And in a highly competitive economic sector, where pennies on the dollar today can make a difference, and without rules to hold them accountable, why would they prioritize cutting pollution–even when 40-50% of these emissions can be mitigated at no net cost.

But if there is only one message I could leave you with today it is this: If industry succeeds in persuading you to adopt weaker methane rules it will be at the expense of the  communities living with oil and gas operations, and eventually, thanks to climate change, all of us.

So when you are sitting down at the table to write these rules remember the Environmental Protection Agency’s mission and remember that you have the power right now, within the clean air act, to cut methane emissions 65% in just five years and while the industry will surely resist this change (as their representatives and employees are paid to do) it will save them money in the long run, capturing more methane after all is capturing more of their product. But more importantly it has the potential to save us all from the worst impacts of the climate crisis. You will be saving our planet.

For the sake of us all I urge you to hold industry accountable to their word and use the full force of the clean air act to cut methane from new and existing sources.