DEP Announces Progress on Methane Protections: PA Environmental Groups Urge Further Action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 30, 2017
Justin Wasser, Clean Air Council: 814-242-3156
DEP Announces Progress on Methane Protections
Pennsylvania Environmental Groups Urge Additional Action
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced it is releasing the final draft of standards to control methane pollution from new and modified natural gas operations. Methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, is accompanied by harmful air pollutants when it leaks from natural gas operations, and emissions in Pennsylvania continue to rise year over year.
The standards are incorporated into two general permits, which allow for a streamlined approval process if industry operators agree to adhere to the permit conditions. One permit, GP-5A, covers unconventional gas wells and pigging operations and the other, GP-5, covers processing plants and compressor stations, including those on large transmission pipelines.
Residents and environmental and public health advocacy groups across the Commonwealth have advocated for Governor Wolf to make progress on these controls for years. Wolf first promised to cut methane pollution from all new and existing gas operations during his 2014 campaign and he announced his methane reduction strategy in January 2016. Advocacy groups were pleased to see progress with the standards, but say that in order to fulfill his campaign promise, the Wolf Administration must finalize general permits and require companies to comply with them. Then groups say the Administration must propose standards to cover existing source of methane pollution.
“After nine long months of waiting, I’m glad to see the Wolf Administration move forward with a final draft of a permit program for reducing methane pollution on new natural gas operations. However, these permit requirements will be meaningless until companies are required to come into compliance,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “Once these permits go into effect, DEP must then take the critical next step of proposing similar requirements that would cover existing natural gas facilities that already impact public health.”
“As a mother of two young boys attending school next to a gas well pad, I am concerned about the health of my children and all children who are impacted by harmful air pollution from the oil and gas industry,” said Patrice Tomcik, Field Consultant with Moms Clean Air Force living in Butler County. “Each year 30,000 Pennsylvania children suffer asthma attacks due to ozone smog resulting from oil and gas sites. Let’s finalize these protections for future gas facilities and move on to the next step: stopping the pollution that’s harming our children now!”
“Swift finalization of these general permits is crucial to setting-up a framework for Governor Wolf’s critical next step, proposing comprehensive standards that will address the hundreds of thousands of existing sources of natural gas methane pollution,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action. “This next step is the only way to address the problem Pennsylvanians are experiencing today, especially as President Trump pursues delays and rollbacks to federal methane controls.”
“Governor Wolf and DEP often say they want Pennsylvania to be a leader in reducing oil and gas pollution, and today they joined other states in this important work,” says Leann Leiter, PA-OH field advocate with Earthworks. “These general permits for new operations are necessary–and also set the stage for developing common sense standards to control pollution from the over 100,000 existing wells and facilities that are already harming health and the climate today.”