Methane is the main component of natural gas. Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry leaks over a hundred thousand tons of this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere each year. These leaks not only impact our climate, they also impact our health. Methane leaks with volatile organic compounds, which include toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, that have direct and devastating health impacts; and that can increase smog levels, exacerbating the risk of asthma attacks, lung and heart disease.
Pennsylvania has nearly 8,000 active fracking wells operated by 66 different companies. Just seven of these companies, which collectively operate around 2,500 wells, participate in the U.S. EPA’s voluntary partnership encouraging oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions. The gas industry argues in favor of this voluntary approach, but such low rates of participation mean that nothing is being done to stop methane pollution at most of the facilities in the Commonwealth. Looking at Pennsylvania air emissions inventory one sees the only place methane pollution is on the decline is the one place subject to regulation.
Fortunately, Governor Tom Wolf is moving forward with actions to cut methane pollution and other harmful emissions from new facilities in Pennsylvania's oil and gas sector. When finalized, these regulations will be some of the strongest in the nation.
Unfortunately, these rules will only address a small fraction of the problem. We need to follow them up with similar control of existing sources. Nationally, it is estimated that by 2020, 90% of methane pollution will come from sources that are already in place.
For too long Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has been allowed to indiscriminately pollute from tens of thousands of sources, with virtually no oversight. It’s time we put an end to this pollution with sensible, cost-effective regulations that hold drillers accountable and clean the air that Pennsylvania families breathe.
Join the cause. Share your voice and show support strong methane regulations for Pennsylvania’s gas industry.