Wolf announces new rules to reduce methane emissions

Philadelphia Business Journal

By Nick Field

January 20, 2016

Governor Tom Wolf introduced a new effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions yesterday, specifically methane.

“Governor Tom Wolf today announced a nation-leading strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and has been implicated in health risks,” the Governor’s Press Secretary Jeffrey Sheridan wrote. “The plan is designed to protect the environment and public health, reduce climate change, and help businesses reduce the waste of a valuable product by reducing methane leaks and emissions from natural gas well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations and along pipelines”

“Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the nation behind Texas,” said Governor Wolf. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, creating new jobs, and protecting public health and our environment. These are commonsense steps that Pennsylvania can take to protect our air and reduce waste for industry. The best companies understand the business case for reducing methane leaks, as what doesn’t leak into the atmosphere can be used for energy production.”

Current estimates are that almost 115,000 tons of methane were released into the air in 2014 as a result of unconventional wells throughout the commonwealth.

“As the basis for our methane strategy, we’ve identified measures that the best companies in the industry are already employing, or that are required by the Federal government, or other states. These measures will pay for themselves in recovering saleable product that is otherwise lost,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley.

The Governor’s four-point plan is presented below:

  • To reduce leaks at new unconventional natural gas well pads, DEP will develop a new general permit for oil and gas exploration, development, and production facilities, requiring Best Available Technology (BAT) for equipment and processes, better record-keeping, and quarterly monitoring inspections.
  • To reduce leaks at new compressor stations and processing facilities, DEP will revise its current general permit, updating best-available technology requirements and applying more stringent LDAR, other requirements to minimize leaks. A new condition will require the use of Tier 4 diesel engines that reduce emissions of particulate matter and nitrous oxide by about 90%.
  • To reduce leaks at existing oil and natural gas facilities, DEP will develop a regulation for existing sources for consideration by the Environmental Quality Board.
  • To reduce emissions along production, gathering, transmission and distribution lines, DEP will establish best management practices, including leak detection and repair programs.

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