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Message to Gov. Wolf: Stop Methane Leaks

Existing oil and gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania leaks more than 100,000 tons of air pollutants every year. (Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr)
Existing oil and gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania leaks more than 100,000 tons of air pollutants every year. (Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr)
May 1, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – It's time to keep your promise and stop the leaks.

That's the message Pennsylvanians affected by oil and gas emissions are sending to Gov. Tom Wolf.

Every year, the oil and gas industry in the state emits more than 100-thousand tons of toxic air pollution, including methane and smog-causing volatile organic compounds.

In January 2016 Wolf proposed new regulations for emissions from new facilities.

But according to Joseph Minott, director of the Clean Air Council, when Wolf was first running for governor, he promised to tackle the leaks that are happening now.

"Four years later, we don't have those regulations, and that is very impactful to the communities that live near the infrastructure that already exists," Minott points out.

Opponents of new regulations say they would hinder development of an industry that is a mainstay of the Pennsylvania economy.

But Minott says dealing with air pollution is not a matter of supporting or opposing the use of fossil fuels.

"Either way, you should be supporting the idea that if you're going to have this infrastructure going through people's communities, the emissions should be as tight as possible," he states.

To emphasize their frustration, shale field residents last week collected samples of air pollution from near their homes and released it outside the governor's office.

While welcoming the regulations for new infrastructure, the participants are concerned that emission regulations for existing infrastructure still haven't been proposed.

Minott says imposing such rules wouldn't be a ground-breaking move.

"It would be catching up to other states like Ohio, Colorado, Texas,” he points out. “So it's surprising that Pennsylvania has not made more progress with this."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA