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New Methane Rules Called Just a Start

Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing weaker emission rules for existing oil and gas facilities. (anita_starzycka/Pixabay)
Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing weaker emission rules for existing oil and gas facilities. (anita_starzycka/Pixabay)
December 20, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Clean air advocates want the Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen rules for methane leaks from existing sources.

Environmental groups say last week's release of the final draft of permits to control emissions from new oil and gas wells, pipelines and compressor stations was an important step in the right direction.

But according to Andrew Williams with the Environmental Defense Fund, Gov. Tom Wolf appears to be backing off his pledge to apply methane controls on the thousands of oil and gas facilities already in operation in Pennsylvania.

He says, "Gov. Wolf and the Department chose to tie their strategy to controls that exist at the federal level already – the very same controls that President Trump's EPA is now in the process of walking back."

Williams says as the second biggest natural gas producer in the country, Pennsylvania needs to do more than meet the bare minimum of emission control standards.

Methane alone is a major contributor to climate change. But emissions also contain smog forming volatile organic compounds that trigger asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Williams notes that those being affected already have been waiting for years for relief.

"Communities are experiencing the impacts of oil and gas pollution right now,” he says, “and the vast majority of Pennsylvanians support controlling methane emissions across the state."

He says Wolf first promised to cut emissions from existing oil and gas facilities three years ago.

Williams points out that other gas producing states such as Colorado have instituted controls that exceed the federal standards.

He says now the governor has an opportunity to show real leadership.

"Leadership that will make sense on both sides of the political aisle,” says Williams, “leadership that will provide much-needed protections to those millions of families living near oil and gas operations here in Pennsylvania."

Wolf and the DEP have pledged to finalize the permits for new oil and gas facilities in the first quarter of next year.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA