These Climate Pollutants Don't Last Long, But They’re Wreaking Havoc on the Arctic

Inside Climate News

By Sabrina Shankman

March 19, 2018 

If we can cut back on methane, black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants, it could buy time to solve the trickier problem of CO2.

When people talk about climate change, the focus is often on carbon dioxide, and for good reason. The CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels today will hang around for centuries, building up over time and continuing to warm the planet.

It isn't the only culprit, though. Mixing in are other pollutants that only stick around for a few weeks or years but pack a powerful punch while they're there. And the Arctic, where the average temperature is rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, has become the unfortunate laboratory where researchers can best measure their impact.

The role that short-lived climate pollutants play in the Arctic has repercussions, because what happens in the Arctic affects the entire planet.

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Environmental group: Methane pollution higher than PA thinks


By Reid Frazier

February 15, 2018

An environmental group says that Pennsylvania’s gas drilling industry is releasing much more methane into the atmosphere than the state is reporting.

Scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund calculated Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale industry is emitting twice as much methane as companies are reporting to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The analysis, posted to the group’s website, is based on 16 peer-reviewed studies funded in part by EDF, including some involving oil and gas companies.

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Methane emissions from oil and gas sites 5 times higher than reported, says group

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Frank Kummer

February 15, 2018

Pennsylvania’s oil and gas well sites emit more than five times the methane that gets reported, according to a report released Thursday by the Environmental Defense Fund.

An estimated 522,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas, are emitted by oil and gas operators yearly, the EDF contends.  By comparison, only about 112,100 tons are reported by the industry.

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Pa. wants to cut methane emissions, but plans moving slowly


By Marie Cusick

November 30, 2017

Nearly two years ago, the Wolf administration made national headlines by saying it would limit climate-damaging methane emissions produced by Pennsylvania’s drilling industry. But plans the state unveiled Thursday don’t mean much for curbing pollution in the near future.

Methane is the main component of natural gas. Compared to carbon dioxide, it’s much more potent as a climate-warming greenhouse gas, although it stays in the planet’s atmosphere for a shorter time period.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says that starting in early 2018, drilling companies will have to use the best available technologies to prevent leaks at new well sites and midstream facilities. A separate package of new regulations for existing emission sources was supposed to be proposed over a year ago, but the DEP missed that self-imposed deadline and won’t give a new one.

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County, public remained in dark about big methane leak

Associated Press

September 24, 2017

One night in early September, a critical piece of natural gas infrastructure temporarily blew its stack.

By the time a resident heard the racket, dialed 911 and workers responded, the Harmony compressor station in rural northeastern Pennsylvania had spewed more than twice as much natural gas into the air as a typical compressor station does in a year.

Yet the Sept. 2 leak was not made public by any state agency or by the company itself. The Associated Press learned of it during a review of calls to the U.S. Coast Guard's National Response Center hotline for discharges of oil, chemicals and other substances.

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Pittsburgh-area activists demand Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf keep campaign promise to protect water and air quality

Pittsburgh City Paper

By Rebecca Addison

August 23, 2017

The end-of-summer, back-to-school season can be hectic for a lot of parents struggling to buy their children new backpacks, clothes and school supplies. But for parents like Patrice Tomcik, a field organizer with Mom’s Clean Air Force, there are additional worries as well.

"Every day I send my kids off to school, I'm exposing them to health and safety risks from the harmful pollution like methane and benzine from the oil and gas industry," said Tomcik, whose home and local school are in close proximity to natural-gas fracking operations and a compressor station. "I know that there are many other families and communities in Pennsylvania like mine who are being impacted by the natural-gas-industry pollution, and they need protection."

Tomcik was one of a dozen activists at a rally outside Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's office in Downtown Pittsburgh earlier today. There, the group called on Wolf to make good on campaign promises to control methane emissions from new oil and gas operations. 

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Budget proposal impacts public health

Daily American

By - Joseph Otis Minott - Opinion

August 8, 2017


Pennsylvania legislators want to balance the state budget on the backs of public health and the environment. 

The Senate recently passed a revenue package designed to balance the state budget and the bills now await action in the House. Hidden among them are drastic provisions that would greatly harm protection of public health and the environment.

Balancing the budget by sanctioning increased pollution and eliminating protections for public health and the environment is not only bad public policy, it’s immoral. Sneaking this kind of language into a revenue package behind closed doors, away from public view, and without public notice and input directly undermines democratic norms of transparency and shows lawmakers want to skirt accountability for their actions.

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Study: Shale drilling spreads invasive plants in Pa. forests


By Nick Malawskey

July 21, 2017

While the Marcellus Shale formation has provided a boom for Pennsylvania's economy, it has also provided a boom to another group -- invasive plants.

Researchers at Penn State University on Thursday published a study which looks at the relationship between invasive plants and drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. Their findings: That 61 percent of the well pads studied had at least one invasive non-native plant species present, and that non-native plant cover was greater around well pads than in the surrounding environment.

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Here's a conservative argument for containing methane emissions: David Jenkins

Harrisburg Patriot News

By David Jenkins - Opinion

July 1, 2017

One thing that Pennsylvanians of any political stripe should agree on is that waste is a bad thing. Whether we are talking about money, time, or energy, the prudent--and conservative--approach is always to minimize waste.

This is why Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were right to launch a concerted strategy last year to reduce natural gas waste and the resulting methane emissions.

The plan will help reduce leaks and emissions from natural gas well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations and along pipelines.

These leaks harm public health as they waste a valuable natural resource and release pollutants into our air.

If successful, Wolf's plan would show that Pennsylvania is a truly a leader in waste reduction by implementing responsible oil and gas practices. 

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Methane emission issues worsen

Scranton Times-Tribune

By Poune Saberi, M.D. - Op-ed

July 17, 2017

The extractive gas industry fails Pennsylvania communities in the most fundamental ways. What may not be obvious is that elected officials facilitate the destruction of the commonwealth. They prioritize the expansion of the drilling industry without regard to community health and welfare or safe, sustainable energy jobs in the renewable sector.

Our Pennsylvania government should immediately acknowledge the public health hazards shale gas extraction causes. Pennsylvania’s gas industry leaks a substantial amount of pollution into the air. The leaks include methane, which drives warmer weather that leads to more air pollution, and volatile organic compounds, some of which are carcinogenic. These harmful toxins are associated with asthma, heart and lung disease, threats to pregnancy and other hazards. It is up to the Department of Environmental Protection and our elected officials to hold the gas industry accountable and ensure we have health protections in place.

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