Anyone who thinks that the Marcellus Shale Coalition is genuinely interested in protecting the public health or the environment in Pennsylvania is in for a rude awakening. For proof, one need look no further than at the lobbying organization’s most recent comments in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. It is full of contradictions that serve only the worst actors in the oil and gas industry.
In it, the lobby group – which represents the majority of the state’s natural gas producers – claims to have the interests of Pennsylvania communities in mind. It claims that oil and gas companies have a vested interest in protecting communities and our shared environment. That is probably true of some forward-thinking companies, but that is hardly how most of the industry operates. If all industry players really walked the walk, oil and gas companies would not be pumping more than 130,000 tons of methane and harmful pollutants in the atmosphere – especially since it costs mere pennies per unit of natural gas sold to slash these emissions nearly in half.
And if MSC really wanted to talk the talk, they would tell the truth about the current state of methane in Pennsylvania. According to the industry’s own data they report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, methane levels across the state are up a whopping 28% and not down, as MSC claims. Conveniently, they chose to leave this out of their calculations.
The group also claims it collaborates with the state agencies to protect communities from industry’s pollution. The real truth is they have tried to sue the DEP over almost every single proposed oil and gas rule revision in the last few years. And right now MSC is lobbying the legislature to pass additional laws that will prevent more environmental and public health protections from being implemented. Hardly the definition of “collaborative.”
The MSC’s “alternative facts” about methane leave a lot to be desired. So here are the real facts.
Man made methane emissions are responsible for 25% of current global warming that is fueling extreme weather events we are experiencing today. And, the oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of this pollution.
Medical professionals across the state agree cutting industry’s pollution would also protect public health. In fact, in an open letter to MSC earlier this year, dozens of Pennsylvania medical professionals warned about the many health risks that rising oil and gas emissions would have on families across the Commonwealth.
The fact that harmful emissions from natural gas operations have gone up in PA – and yet MSC argues the opposite when their own members are reporting different information – makes it clear the organization does not have our communities - or the truth - in its interests.
When it comes to protection, Pennsylvanians should ask themselves who they will choose to believe: A lobby group for the oil and gas industry, or the myriad doctors, scientists, and state officials who have said time and time again that industry’s methane emissions are a serious problem that needs to be addressed.