Regulate Methane In Pennsylvania: Voluntary restraint won’t work with the natural gas industry

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Op-Ed

By Gretchen Alfonso

May 5, 2015

On April 20, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released its latest inventory of pollutants emitted by unconventional natural gas extraction — i.e., extraction via hydraulic fracturing. Not readily apparent among the numbers is that unregulated emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, are way up.

But, while fugitive methane emissions overall show a considerable year-over-year increase in the DEP report, a category that is down substantially are emissions that escape during the drilling and completion of wells, for which reductions are mandated by federal New Source Performance Standards. The lesson is: Regulations get results.

Enter the natural gas industry, where up is down and regulations could be good on Monday but not so much the next day. David J. Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group, cheered the “sharp decline in methane emissions,” ascribing them to “strong, state-based regulations.”

Not so fast. What Mr. Spigelmyer neglected to say was that the emission declines were in one category with limited federal regulation while emissions were up considerably in all unregulated categories.

Read the full article here


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