EPA Looks to Reduce Methane Emissions

The Allegheny Front

By Reid Frazier

August 20, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule this week to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling. And it could have big impacts in Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-biggest gas producer.

Natural gas has been hailed as a lower-carbon fuel than coal, but its production emits methane—a potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change. The EPA’s proposed rule aims to cut methane from oil and gas production by 45 percent from 2012 levels over the next 10 years. Joe Minott of Clean Air Council says it could also cut other pollution, including the kind that creates ozone, or smog.

“It is, from a public health point of view, a win-win-win,” Minott says.

The drilling industry as a whole has panned the new EPA rule, saying the proposal is unnecessary and costly. George Stark of Cabot Oil and Gas says his company has already cut its emissions—by 85 percent in recent years—because it’s in their financial interest.

“We are a company that produces natural  gas—methane. We don't have a real strong desire to allow it to vent to the atmosphere,” he says.

The federal rules mainly address emissions from new oil and gas operations. Clean Air Council’s Joe Minott also wants the state to tighten emissions from existing infrastructure.

“Clearly the operations that are already happening in Pennsylvania and other states are emitting a lot of methane and that needs to be addressed,” Minott says.

The Department of Environmental Protection says it is looking at ways to reduce methane leaks from the gas industry.

Read the full article here


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