Amy Nassif, of Mars, Pa. testified at an EPA hearing on methane with her daughter, Julia. Photo by Reid Frazier
By: Joe Minott, Clean Air Council Executive Director
Pennsylvanians are making it known that they’re not willing to sit back quietly and let the oil and gas industry ruin their environment and air. Representatives from community and environmental groups across the state outnumbered industry representatives nearly 100 to one to testify at EPA’s public hearing in Pittsburgh on proposed federal methane regulations. Much to the dismay of gas drillers hoping to continue to pollute unchecked, Pennsylvania’s support for strong regulations on methane emissions was loud and clear.
One of the key points voiced at the hearing is that when it comes to regulating methane in Pennsylvania, addressing only new sources (future or modified gas sites) is not enough. As J. Stephen Cleghorn, a farmer from Jefferson County testified, “we should be implementing rules on existing infrastructure, where 90 percent of the leaks are occurring, now.”
Mr. Cleghorn was not alone in this view. Patricia DeMarco of Forest Hills likened EPA’s proposed rule to “using a Band-Aid to stop hemorrhaging,” while Anna Hansen, a student at Duquesne University, noted that, "these rules are a great first step but I believe that they do not go far enough…I believe we need to regulate new and existing oil and gas wells."
The overwhelming support for strong regulations to curb methane pollution at EPA’s third and final public hearing—prior hearings were held in Texas and Colorado—was apparent to all in attendance. “I shudder to think of what my grandchildren … will face if we fail to act on this challenge,” said Larry Schweiger, President of PennFuture.
As long as Pennsylvanians continue to speak out against the harmful effects of methane pollution, we have reason to be hopeful that both federal officials—and more importantly, Pennsylvania’s leaders—will do what needs to be done to protect our air and secure a safe future for generations of Pennsylvanians to come.