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Enviromentalists to EPA: Expand Methane Emission Rules

Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the country. Credit: Ruhrfisch/Wikimedia Commons.
Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the country. Credit: Ruhrfisch/Wikimedia Commons.
September 29, 2015

PITTSBURGH – Proposed rules on methane emissions are a good start, but don't go far enough. That's the message from environmentalists to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In comments to the agency at a public hearing in Pittsburgh today, advocates say the rules as written would not apply to existing sources of methane. Rob Altenburg, director of PennFuture Energy Center, says Pennsylvania has thousands of gas wells in operation now.

"These new rules target only new and modified sources, so the vast majority of the wells in the state are not likely to be covered by these rules in the near future," he says.

Pennsylvania is currently the second-largest gas producing state in the country.

Jim Murphy, senior counsel with the National Wildlife Federation, says reducing methane emissions would do more than slow global climate change – it would also reduce ozone and other ground level pollution.

"You really get a two for one, you cut carbon emissions to help the climate, and then you also reduce localized pollution that harms wildlife and people who want to enjoy outdoor areas," he says.

In 2012 the federal government initiated measures to reduce methane emissions during the drilling process. Altenburg says the state can step in to control emissions the federal rules may miss.

"What we would like to see is the governor act aggressively to cover the thousands of wells and the thousands of sources that aren't being covered by these rules," says Altenburg.

The EPA has also held hearings on the proposed methane rules in Denver and in Dallas.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA