By Leann Leiter
October 29, 2018
No matter where Earthworks’ field staff go, we see the oil and gas industry’s air pollution. Whether visiting a new facility or returning to notorious polluters, the Community Empowerment Project continually documents air pollution all over the US that presents a threat to the health of those nearby and to the global climate. Our trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio this month–and the alarming air pollution we documented at sites new and old–is a timely reminder of the need for federal protections and the urgency of moving away from fossil fuels altogether.Read more
PA Environmental Community Applauds Governor Wolf for Permits to Control Methane Pollution from New Sources of Natural Gas
Concerned residents and environmental groups look forward to Governor Wolf extending his leadership to advance standards for existing sources of natural gas pollution
A natural gas facility adjacent to homes in Pennsylvania.
Harrisburg, PA (June 7, 2018) – This week, in a major milestone, Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are moving forward with the finalization of permits to control air pollution from new natural gas operations. These landmark permits, GP-5 and GP-5A, will reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and volatile organic compounds, which pose significant public health risks to Pennsylvania communities.
Governor Wolf first announced his intent to reduce methane pollution from new and existing natural gas sources in 2014 and formally announced his methane reduction strategy in January 2016. Residents affected by natural gas operations, along with environmental and public health advocacy groups, have been outspoken in their support for his plan. Just two weeks ago, residents of impacted communities delivered 30,000 comments to the governor’s office in support of comprehensive methane pollution standards.Read more
Impacted Residents and Environmental Advocates Call on Lawmakers to Protect Pennsylvanians, Not Polluters
On Tuesday, May 22, dozens of Pennsylvania residents and environmental advocates braved the rain to send a clear message to elected officials: it’s time to protect Pennsylvanians, not polluters, by supporting the governor’s methane standards and passing a budget without anti-environmental riders.
Flanked by large video screens showing infrared imaging of oil and gas air pollution that is usually invisible to the naked eye, a diverse group of speakers detailed why curbing methane pollution is critical for Pennsylvania.
Released February 15, 2018, a new analysis by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) finds methane emissions from Pennsylvanian’s oil and gas sites may be more than five times higher than what companies report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and that emissions of volatile organic compounds may be 9 times higher. This report leaves no doubt: Pennsylvania’s problem with air pollution from the oil and gas industry is serious and it’s much worse than we thought.
What happens when a massive amount of methane leaks from a natural gas facility in less than two hours? In Pennsylvania- nothing
On September 2, 2017, DTE Energy’s Harmony compressor station in Susquehanna County, PA malfunctioned, and released twice the amount of methane that is normally released from this type of facility over the course of a year. In less than two hours, over 200 tons of methane was released into the atmosphere. According to the DEP’s emissions inventory, the average compressor station releases 97.5 tons of methane a year.
What happened next? Nothing.
DTE did not notify the Susquehanna Co. Emergency Management Agency because they didn’t deem it an “imminent and substantial danger to public health and safety.” Because this leak didn’t lead to an explosion or any deaths - it went largely unnoticed, but DTE’s judgment about whether this incident posed an imminent danger to health and safety was wrong and dangerous. To make matters worse, no surrounding residents or government agencies were notified of the incident or any precautions to take.
Read enough? Take action and tell Governor Tom Wolf to keep his promise to the people of Pennsylvania and move immediately to enact standards that will cut harmful methane pollution.Read more
On July 27, 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate approved a revenue package that will further decimate the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), threatening public health and damaging our environment in the process. By the slimmest of margins, the Senate voted 26-24 to adopt amendments to the Tax Code bill – House Bill 542 – which does achieve one of Governor Wolf’s long-sought goals, a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas from unconventional wells. On its own, this is a worthy policy goal. However, in exchange for what amounts to a paltry revenue increase, the Senate approved a series of environmental riders wanted by industry groups that gut DEP’s ability to act in the public interest. This is unacceptable; the state budget is not the place to debate critical protections for our air, water, and public health. DEP’s budget has already been slashed by 40 percent over the last 13 years – resulting in the loss of over 22 percent of its staff – and HB 542 would undermine DEP’s authority going forward and pose an immediate threat to Governor Wolf’s proposed commonsense controls on methane pollution.
Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.Read more
At the expense of PA families, some industry lobbyists spew “alternative facts” on state’s methane problem
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.
More Pollution Headed for Pennsylvania
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's action to suspend commonsense leak detection and repair requirements creates an immediate health and environmental threat for communities in Pennsylvania. This loophole allows wells across the state to continue emitting methane, a powerful climate forcing pollutant, smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) like benzene, a known human carcinogen.Read more
Residents and groups from across Pennsylvania submitted over 11,000 comments to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) advocating for proposed changes to streamlined permits that address methane pollution from new and modified natural gas operations.
Methane leaks at almost every stage of the natural gas supply chain. Methane pollution carries with it a range of other harmful pollutants, posing an unnecessary health risk to residents living near gas operations and downwind residents across the state. Pennsylvania has a serious methane pollution problem from the oil and gas industry– a problem that is only getting worse.Read more
PA health experts, policymakers, and shalefield residents held press conference and rally to call for swift adoption of state air quality protections
(HARRISBURG, PA - May 24, 2017) Today, impacted residents, a public health expert, and a state legislator spoke in support of Governor Wolf’s initial work to curb air pollution from the oil and gas industry and urge the Governor to keep his promise to address existing industry operations already polluting the air.
As the Senate Majority Policy Committee met with industry leaders at a hearing inside the Capitol, speakers at the rally outside used verifiable data and the widespread experiences of residents statewide to refute industry’s claims that natural gas development is harmless. They called on legislators to stop any efforts to derail new oil and gas permits requiring operators to detect and repair leaks, thereby reducing pollution and preventing the waste of natural gas.
Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.Read more