By Ned Ketyer, MD - Letter to the Editor
February 3, 2017
Seeking to prevent much-needed rules on methane emissions from shale gas infrastructure, state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler badly misreads the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2015 Asthma Focus Report by cherry-picking data showing asthma-related hospitalizations declining from 2009-2013 and jumps to a careless conclusion that “Pennsylvania’s air is getting cleaner because of increased natural gas production” (“Natural Gas Is Improving Our Air,” Feb. 1 Perspectives). Had the senator read the report more carefully, he would have noted that emergency room admissions for asthma increased significantly in Pennsylvania during this period to an “all-time high.” Furthermore, there is a map clearly showing that the highest rates of hospitalization for asthma outside Philadelphia County occur in the Marcellus shale gas patch in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.
No, senator, natural gas development isn’t making the air cleaner. It’s making it dirtier, and the growing body of medical science and practical experience says it’s making people — especially children — sick with a variety of ailments, including asthma.
Strengthening rather than weakening methane rules is a win for consumers and businesses that have to pay fuel bills, a win for the industry (capturing fugitive emissions means more product gets to market), a win for the public’s (especially children’s) health by halting toxic emissions into the air we breathe, and a win for the planet’s climate system. The suggestion by Sen. Reschenthaler that commonsense methane standards would “make no meaningful impact on the environment” is irresponsible and wrong.