Vegas resident calls on EPA to finalize strong methane rule by the end of summer

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By Itzel Rios-Vega

September 20, 2023

In a letter to the editor published by The Nevadan/El Nevadense, Las Vegas resident Itzel Rios-Vega demands that the EPA adopts strong, comprehensive methane safeguards to protect individuals’ health and the planet.

Growing up in the East Las Vegas desert, I saw firsthand how my community was disproportionately affected by the impacts of the oil and gas industry. I remember pinching my nose on my walks to school because my neighborhood smelled so much like smoke from the nearby industrial buildings. This really solidified my belief that every single human being deserves a clean, healthy, and sustainable life, regardless of race or income. And I’m not alone; over 17 million people across the United States reside within a half-mile health threat of active oil and gas production operations—forced to breathe air polluted with methane and other toxic chemicals.

Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is destroying our communities and climate at an extremely alarming rate. On March 14th, 2023, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) approved a new methane gas-powered peaker plant – the first added to NV Energy’s fleet in nine years. Nevada families are already struggling to pay high electric and gas bills. It’s high time to acknowledge that my community—and countless others like it—can no longer bear the brunt of decisions that prioritize corporate profits over our health, our environment, and our collective future.

RELATED: Ratepayers to NV Energy: ‘Give us a break’

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has the power to listen to our concerns and finalize a rule that reduces the most methane pollution possible.

Nevada residents have been waiting for strong methane pollution safeguards for far too long, and we refuse to wait any longer. The Environmental Protection Agency must take action to cut methane pollution no later than the end of this summer—our future depends on it.

  • Itzel Rios-Vega

    As a lifelong Nevadan raised by Mexican immigrants, Itzel is a passionate community activist. She has organized around climate justice, contributed to the 2020 presidential election, and helps build campaigns for progressive organizations. A committed volunteer with the Nevada Conservation League, Itzel’s work centers on empowering her comunidad and advancing the issues that matter most to them.



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