90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh
By Sean Ray & Essential Pittsburgh
November 3, 2015
For the first time in its history, the Environmental Protection Agency has established a set of methane standards. These regulations come as part of the White House’s Climate Action plan, which aims to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45% by 2025, and are open to public comment through Nov. 17. To analyze the impact of the standards, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Dr. Evelyn Talbott, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
The standards are projected to have an impact on the fracking industry, which has been establishing a growing foothold in Pennsylvania. Until this point, the industry has not been regulated like the coal industry, Talbott says, to the point practitioners did not have to reveal what “cocktail” they used to frack the ground.
“My understanding is that there have been no standards up till now,” Talbott said. “It has really been the wild west.”
Talbott believes the increasing number of fracking wells are to blame for the EPA’s creation of the standards, especially considering how close wells are being built to homes. The increased visibility has made more people concerned about the issue, Talbott said.
“There’s a realization that they’re very, very close to people and there aren’t just a couple of them,” Talbott said. “There are many, many of them and I think it’s sort of a wakeup call.”
While there is a concern that such regulations could lead to a reduction in jobs in the fracking industry, Talbott believes that the costs are offset by the benefits. Methane, Tablott said, is a very potent greenhouse gas and its reduction would do a lot to help combat global warming.
“It appears, at the end of the day, there will actually be a net profit for society as a whole and the industry,” Talbott said. “It is not necessarily a bad thing, so all in all, I think it’s a win-win situation.”
The EPA released a cost benefit analysis, which Talbott believes all interested citizens should take a look at before Nov. 17 while the standards are still open to public comment.
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