EPA releases rules to curb methane emissions from oil, gas industry

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

By David Conti

August 18, 2015

The Obama administration's latest move to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector angered an industry that called the proposal duplicative and unnecessary and failed to satisfy environmentalists who want tougher rules for oil and gas wells.

The plan released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce how much methane escapes from hydraulically fractured wells and related transmission infrastructure targets an ongoing debate about whether the industry is doing enough to keep the gas it pulls out of shale from leaking into the air.

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EPA’s methane plan puts pressure on states to achieve bigger cuts, advocates say


By Jon Hurdle

August 18, 2015

Environmentalists on Tuesday called on Pennsylvania to act to reduce methane emissions from existing natural gas infrastructure and build on proposed federal standards that would cut emissions of the gas from new and modified plants.

Natural gas companies say they already have made strides to cut the emissions and called the new federal proposal unnecessary.

Environmental advocates welcomed the federal plan as a step in the right direction but said it would not address the majority of the industry’s methane emissions.   Those come, they say, from existing oil and gas production facilities, such as those in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.

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Environmental Groups and Community Leaders Welcome U.S. EPA’s New Methane Pollution Standards and Call for Additional Action


PHILADELPHIA, PA (August 18, 2015) - Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its much anticipated, first-ever proposed methane pollution standards for new and modified oil and gas facilities. These new regulations will reduce leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20 year time period. Air pollution leaks from the oil and gas industry also include ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some individual VOCs are known human carcinogens and VOCs can also form smog, which is linked to asthma development and asthma attacks. More than four million Pennsylvanians live in areas that currently exceed national clean air standards for ozone levels.  In 2013, the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania leaked over 120,000 metric tons of methane into the air, the equivalent CO2 emissions of burning 3.2 billion pounds of coal. EPA expects the rule to make progress toward the administration’s goal, laid out in January, to reduce methane emissions by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. 

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Elections Have Consequences: Tom Wolf Supports Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Keystone Politics

By Jon Geeting

August 4, 2015

Tom Wolf’s reaction to the Obama White House’s Clean Power Plan, which would regulate emissions from existing energy producers for the first time, is a perfect example of why it’s so important for Democrats to vote every single November, not just every four years.

Wolf doesn’t shy away from the fact that hitting these new emissions targets will be a big challenge for Pennsylvania, where coal still accounts for about a third of our energy production, and which will have to achieve more ambitious emission reduction targets than the average state.

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'Pa. we have a problem' - web ad presses Wolf to clean up shale pollution

PennLive - Blog

By John L. Micek

July 29, 2015

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Though a great many things attributed to him are, like much of politics, apocryphal, the great Yogi Berra, is once believed to have said that one can "observe an awful lot by watching."

Thus did we arrive at PennLive World HQ this morning to find the image you see below staring at us, unblinkingly, from the homepage of this very news organization. 

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As Wolf Gears Up For Environmental Regulatory Push, a Reminder to Focus on Methane

Keystone Politics

By Jon Geeting

July 27, 2015

With the release of Tom Wolf’s regulatory agenda for the year last Friday, it’s a great time to refocus on the need to take a hard line on methane leakage.

Why is this so important?

Attitudes toward fracking in Pennsylvania politics come in three basic shapes.

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Put kids first, not gas companies

Pennsylvania legislators get a one-sided picture at a hearing on shale-gas taxes

By Lee Branstetter, Nathaniel Horner, Granger Morgan, Ed Rubin and Parth Vaishnav of CMU

July 19, 2015

This article was written by Carnegie Mellon University's Lee Branstetter, a professor of economics and public policy; Nathaniel Horner, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy; Granger Morgan, the Hamerschlag University Professor of Engineering and founding director of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation; Ed Rubin, the Alumni Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science; and Parth Vaishnav, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

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Voluntary Environmental Standards Don’t Work

Keystone Politics

By Jon Geeting

July 17, 2015

Officially, natural gas drillers are already complying with the EPA’s plan banning frack water from being sent to municipal water treatment plants, which aren’t equipped to clean those kinds of toins. But they still don’t want those regulations to become official, and would rather keep going with the handshake agreement they struck with Tom Corbett, reports Jon Hurdle:

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GOP lawmakers would give gas drillers a gift by stopping new DEP rules

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Letter to the Editor

By Nancy Tashman, Mt. Lebanon

July 10, 2015

Don’t look now, but our state legislators are trying to give the Marcellus Shale industry another gift!

It’s bad enough that our legislators refuse to consider a severance tax on Marcellus Shale production, leaving Pennsylvania the only major gas-producing state without such a tax. Now, lawmakers from Pennsylvania’s drilling counties are trying to undermine the public will by attaching an amendment, without debate or discussion, to the budget companion Fiscal Code bill.

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Gas not so clean

The Times Tribune - Letter to the Editor

By Scott Cannon, Plymouth

July 9, 2015

Editor: The Times-Tribune editorial “Shift in power,” which was published July 1, mistakenly labels natural gas as clean energy source.

To be sure, natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal, but leaks of methane — a greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas — are so rampant throughout the natural gas supply chain that it is estimated that gas may actually be worse than coal for our climate. And, of course, whenever methane leaks it is accompanied by other harmful air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds, which contributes to smog, and benzene.

Pennsylvania doesn’t have any regulations in place to stop these leaks, and although the industry consistently tries to argue that voluntary emissions limits will solve the problem, the evidence suggests otherwise. Earlier this year, the state Department of Environmental Protection released an inventory showing that most methane emissions reductions occurred from regulated sources, while most emissions increases came from unregulated sources. If Pennsylvania is serious about climate and the transition to clean energy, it should invest in zero-emitting sources while enforcing tough regulations on methane leaks from natural gas.

Read the full letter here

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