In Pennsylvania, there has been a surge of natural gas development in recent years. Unfortunately for communities who live near gas facilities, every stage in the natural gas supply chain leaks harmful pollutants alongside natural gas, causing a host of health and environmental problems. These leaks contain numerous air pollutants that can exacerbate respiratory diseases (such as asthma) and lead to lung and heart disease, even cancer. Natural gas is primarily composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes 86 times more warming than carbon dioxide in the short-term. These leaks are no small matter either; in 2014 Pennsylvania’s gas industry leaked enough methane to heat nearly 65,000 homes, and recent studies have shown that official measures of methane leakage rates are vastly underestimated by regulatory agencies. Despite this clear and pressing problem, Pennsylvania and the federal government currently have few regulations in place to cut methane pollution.
The Council has been hard at work to change that over the past year. Through research to determine best available technologies and practices, public education, and bringing experts and impacted residents to public meetings and hearings, we made sure the Wolf Administration and US EPA knew that Pennsylvanians want and need these protections.
State and Federal Regulations
The Council has been pushing for regulations to cut methane pollution from both existing and future oil and gas infrastructure. In the fall of 2015, the Council organized hundreds of supporters including Council members, scientists, nurses, and impacted people from across the state to attend a public hearing in Pittsburgh and testify in support of the first-ever EPA regulations on methane for future oil and gas infrastructure. The Council also got thousands of our members to send letters to the head of the EPA asking for coverage of existing oil and gas sources. The Council has continued to press EPA to finalize their rules for new oil and gas sources through recruiting key voices and our members to publicly support the standards. EPA finalized rules for new sources in May 2016. The Council will also keep pushing the EPA to act on its stated commitment to address existing sources of methane pollution by proposing, adopting, and implementing regulations for these sources that will ensure our air is kept clean and our climate goals are met. Even though Governor Wolf is taking action to establish these important methane safeguards in Pennsylvania, other states must be required to do the same in order to level the playing field and protect the air we all breathe, since air pollution knows no state boundaries.
In addition to working at the federal level, the Council has urged Pennsylvania’s DEP to enact regulations on methane. The Council delivered 10,000 petition signatures to the Wolf administration from Pennsylvania residents calling for the strongest measures possible to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas facilities. In January of 2016, Governor Wolf announced a suite of proposals to cut methane pollution, including new permitting requirements and best practices for technology and leak monitoring for existing oil and gas facilities. The Governor committed to developing “best-in-the-nation” standards for reducing methane pollution. But the work is not yet done, and as these proposals get drafted into regulations and policies, the Council will be working with the public and the DEP to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts best-in-the-nation methane pollution standards.
For more information contact Matt Walker at 215-567-4004 ext. 121 or email email@example.com.