By Joe Minott
This week, EPA released the latest data from its Greenhouse Gas Reporting program, gathered from industrial sources like the oil and gas industry. It should come of no surprise that, as we’ve been saying for some time, that the problem of air pollution from drilling is getting bigger in Pennsylvania.
The new EPA data show that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector rose 3.5 percent from the previous year, and 6.2 percent from 2011, the initial reporting year. This signifies a serious on-going problem, as emissions mean poor air quality in drilling communities as well as the negative impacts of climate change, such as more intense storms and heat waves.
Methane, one of the greenhouse gases in the report, is the primary component of natural gas and leaks from every point across the oil and gas supply chain. While EPA requirements placed on oil and gas drillers have allowed for a small decrease in methane emissions, the problem is still there.
Pennsylvania’s oil and gas drillers are not currently required to rein in their methane pollution, and most operators do not participate in the voluntary programs that exist to fight this problem. This is why we need smart, cost-effective rules that keep methane from leaking from natural gas infrastructure.
Tom Wolf made a promise during his campaign for Governor to do something about methane. The new EPA data are the latest reminder to Governor Wolf that it’s time to take action. We can’t afford to wait any longer for strong rules in Pennsylvania when it comes to regulating pollution from the oil and gas industry. It’s time to take action now.