Friends and foes of gas industry converge on state Capitol

NPR State Impact Pennsylvania

by Marie Cusick

May 24, 2017

Two starkly different versions of reality were on display Wednesday morning at the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

Inside the building, a joint hearing by Republicans from the Senate Majority Policy Committee and Environmental Resources and Energy Committee examined the economic benefits natural gas production has brought Pennsylvania– with skyrocketing production, tens of thousands of new jobs, and more than a billion dollars in impact fee revenue. Outside, environmental groups and concerned citizens railed against the industry’s harmful air emissions, which exacerbate global climate change and can contribute to localized health effects.

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Report: Methane emissions up 20 percent at Pennsylvania natural gas sites

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Frank Kummer

May 10, 2017

Emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, are increasing at natural gas industry sites in Pennsylvania at a rate greater than gas production, alarming some environmental groups.

That news released this week was tempered somewhat Wednesday for environmentalists when the U.S. Senate voted to block a Trump administration attempt to roll back Obama-era methane rules on federal lands, none of which are in Pennsylvania, however.

PennFuture says new data being self-reported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania show a 20 percent increase in methane, which is a byproduct of flaring and venting that occur during natural gas production.  The data are for the years 2014 and 2015, the latest available.

At the same time, gas production rose about 12 percent, according to the Energy Information Agency.

“Any time emissions are rising faster than production, it’s clear that voluntary efforts to cut emissions are not working,” Rob Altenburg, director of PennFuture’s Energy Center, said in a statement.

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Message to Gov. Wolf: Stop Methane Leaks

Public News Service

By Andrea Sears

May 1, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – It's time to keep your promise and stop the leaks. 

That's the message Pennsylvanians affected by oil and gas emissions are sending to Gov. Tom Wolf. 

Every year, the oil and gas industry in the state emits more than 100-thousand tons of toxic air pollution, including methane and smog-causing volatile organic compounds. 

In January 2016 Wolf proposed new regulations for emissions from new facilities. 

But according to Joseph Minott, director of the Clean Air Council, when Wolf was first running for governor, he promised to tackle the leaks that are happening now.

"Four years later, we don't have those regulations, and that is very impactful to the communities that live near the infrastructure that already exists," Minott points out.

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Protesters descend on Wolf’s Pittsburgh office to clear the air on methane

Observer-Reporter - Washington County News

By Rick Shrum

April 26, 2017

An environmental group and several supporters raised a stink – literally – about air pollution outside Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pittsburgh office Wednesday afternoon.

“Accountability is what this is about. Who should be accountable, the industry or Governor Wolf?” asked Lois Bower-Bjornson of Scenery Hill, the lead speaker at a rally outside the governor’s Piatt Place office downtown.

Bower-Bjornson is a member of Clean Air Council, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that organized the rally. She was among about a dozen people who gathered to urge the Democratic governor to keep his promise to implement standards on emissions of methane and other air pollution at existing oil and gas operations.

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Regulations uncertain, methane detection has economic benefits, group says

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By - Anya Litvak

April 12, 2017


Even as the federal government that once promised tighter control over methane emissions now heads in the exact opposite direction, environmental groups and companies looking to capitalize on stricter controls have not been deterred.

Methane monitoring creates jobs, announced a report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund, a New York-based nonprofit that has been studying methane emissions from the oil and gas sector for years.

To illustrate the point, EDF invited a helicopter company that flies over well sites and pipelines to give rides in search of methane leaks on Tuesday. Spoiler alert: None was found.

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Clean air is not negotiable

Lancaster Online

Alan Peterson, M.D. 

April 5, 2017

Now that spring has sprung — and no sooner than usual, thanks to Punxsutawney Phil — I’m mindful of lighter breezes and the air we all breathe. Here in Pennsylvania, that air is much fouler than it should be.

Sadly, the Trump administration appears to have no interest in improving our air quality here or anywhere else. Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling and the specter of runaway pipelines will only be making things worse.

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Don't weaken state's power to police gas leaks

Bucks County Courier Times

By Nadia Steinzor and Eva Roben 

April 4, 2017

Last spring, the Bucks County Courier Times ran a story about a new partnership to monitor and improve air quality and health. It provided useful tips for residents to do their part, such as taking public transportation instead of driving.

Every bit helps, especially in a region that ranks among the worst for air quality in Pennsylvania. This year, Bucks residents should welcome a new opportunity to help protect air and health: support state measures to reduce pollution from the oil and gas industry.

While there's no drilling in the county, no Pennsylvania resident is immune from air pollution from natural gas operations, which can travel long distances. A recent analysis by the Clean Air Task Force and other researchers determined that over 1,000 asthma attacks among children in Bucks County can be attributed to oil and gas pollution. (See And with plans underway for new gas transmission infrastructure like the PennEast pipeline, the problem could get worse.

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Demand clean air

Philadelphia Inquirer - Letter to the Editor

By Caroline Edwards, Radnor

March 30, 2017

We should not have to settle for air that is still being fouled by industrial polluters, even if the proverbial deck chairs have been rearranged and more pollution is now coming from natural-gas drilling than coal-fired power plants. The allusion to the deck chairs on the Titanic is apt: we are headed for disaster if we don't act now.

As a neonatal nurse practitioner, I interact with families with infants and children struggling with asthma and other chronic respiratory ailments. The escalation of natural-gas drilling and pipeline activity is making matters worse, as this infrastructure leaks methane - a climate-forcing agent that contributes to smog - and volatile organic compounds that make breathing an even greater challenge.

Gov. Wolf is rightly developing standards to address this air pollution. If we all want to breathe easier, we should insist that our representatives in Harrisburg listen to their constituents and fast-track common-sense rules to protect the health of residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Legislature let us down

Endeavor News - Opinions

By Joseph Otis Minott

March 25, 2017

Negative health and environmental impacts ofPennsylvania’s shale gas drilling boom are well documented. While the nation may be concerned about life-threatening pollution that Pennsylvania’s gas industry has created, it seems our own state legislators are not. In fact, they’re actively helping to make the problems worse.

The state legislature has repeatedly fought to keep the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) from implementing policies that could help safeguard Pennsylvania families from drinking toxic water and breathing dirty air.

The Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy worked behind closed doors to add language to the budget bills that would prevent the DEP from enforcing a set of oil and gas regulations known as Chapter 78.

These regulations help protect Pennsylvania’s lakes, rivers and streams from drilling contamination and provide more transparency to families living in the gas fields. DEP spent nearly five years working on these protections, which garnered almost 30,000 public comments and were vetted at dozens of public meetings before being finalized.

It was a measure supported by thousands of families across the commonwealth, but our legislature voted to kill it.

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California board adopts strictest U.S. methane rules


By Tom James

March 24, 2017

California's air quality board voted unanimously on Thursday to approve methane regulations touted as the strictest adopted yet in the United States for controlling emissions of the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

The rules, approved by the California Air Resources Board, tighten efficiency requirements for production and transportation of natural gas and for some oil-handling equipment, including installation of emissions-recapture technology.

They also mandate more stringent monitoring and reporting of potential gas leaks as a means of pinpointing and repairing them quickly.

Methane, the main component of commercially distributed natural gas, is also a byproduct of oil extraction. Pound for pound, it traps significantly more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, though its effects are shorter-lived.

The 14-member board announced its approval of the methane rules at the end of a daylong meeting in Riverside, California, east of Los Angeles.

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