August 27, 2020

Warren, Blunt Rochester, Underwood, & Colleagues Highlight Dangerous New EPA Methane Rule

Letter Highlights How the Dangerous Rollback Increases Maternal Health Risks

Text of letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), led a letter of 28 Members of Congress to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler expressing their deep concern with a new rule which would weaken the EPA’s ability to limit dangerous methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. The letter also highlighted the link between dangerous methane emissions and the impact on maternal health risks, particularly for Black women. 

“This rollback not only comes at a time when our country is battling a global health pandemic, but it also comes amidst growing evidence linking climate change and exposure to air pollution with maternal health risks. Research shows that pregnant women exposed to high temperatures and air pollution have a higher risk of giving birth to children who are premature, underweight, or stillborn,” the Members wrote. “Preterm births are associated with higher rates of infant deaths and can lead to adverse health outcomes like breathing problems, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy. What’s more, research shows that these risks are significantly higher for Black mothers and babies than the population at large. EPA’s recent rollback will increase planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution, exacerbating these disproportionate health impacts on women of color.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Representatives Brenda L. Lawrence (D-Mich), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.),  Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.),  Gwen S. Moore (D-Wis.), Steve Cohen (D-), Joseph P. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

This month, Senator Warren and Representative Underwood introduced the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act to improve research and data collection, safeguard the health of pregnant and postpartum individuals, and dedicate resources to combat the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Warren has led her colleagues in urging HHS to address the needs of pregnant people during the COVID-19 pandemic and combat the maternal mortality crisis – and urged NIH and FDA to incorporate the needs of pregnant people in vaccine development. In April, Senator Warren joined Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, in releasing a new GAO report underscoring the need to address maternal mortality crisis. Last year, Senator Warren and Representative Blunt Rochester questioned HHS and CMS on their efforts to reduce maternal mortality. She is a co-sponsor of Senator Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) MOMMIES Act, and Senator Richard Durbin’s (D-Ill.) Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA) Act.