Leader of ‘new EPA’ speaks at Pittsburgh oil and gas conference

Beaver County Times

By Jared Stonesifer

October 24, 2018

PITTSBURGH — The acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a conference of oil and gas executives Wednesday morning that he is leading a “new EPA” that will focus on deregulation and a streamlined permitting process.

President Donald Trump in July appointed Andrew Wheeler as the acting administrator of the agency, and the president hinted earlier this week that Wheeler soon could become the permanent director.

Wheeler, 53, began his professional career with the EPA in the early 1990s but later became a lobbyist for the coal industry. On Wednesday, he came to Pittsburgh to deliver the opening keynote address of the Shale Insight Conference, an annual gathering of industry insiders from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

During his speech in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Wheeler reassured those in attendance that they have a “new champion” in the White House in the form of Trump.

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Andrew Wheeler to oil and gas industry: Trump's 'new EPA' will remove barriers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Anya Litvak

October 24, 2018

The oil and gas industry is so important to the nation’s top environmental regulator that, upon taking the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency in July, Andrew Wheeler headed to a Range Resources well pad in southwestern Pennsylvania.

It was his first trip outside of Washington, D.C., and on Wednesday, the acting EPA administrator returned to the region to kick off the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s annual Shale Insight conference.

His message to the friendly crowd was clear: “The New EPA” — that was the title of his talk — is “removing regulatory barriers and leveling the playing field for American companies.”

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DEP moving forward with emission rules for existing oil and gas sources


By Marie Cusick

September 20, 2018

The state Department of Environmental Protection is moving forward with plans to regulate harmful air pollution from Pennsylvania’s thousands of oil and gas sites.

In June, the DEP released new general permits, aimed at controlling methane emissions from new oil and gas sources. In an August 4 notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the agency says it intends to propose new rules on existing sources to the Environmental Quality Board in early 2019.

DEP spokesman John Repetz said the department plans to discuss the draft concepts of the rulemaking with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee at their next scheduled meeting on December 13.

The move is part of a broader effort, announced by Governor Tom Wolf in early 2016, to curb climate-damaging emissions from the oil and gas industry.

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Warming Climate Puts PA Summer Recreation at Risk

Public News Service

By Andrea Sears

August 15, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Climate change already is affecting summers here in Pennsylvania and across the country, according to a new report.

The National Wildlife Federation report said rising temperatures, droughts and severe weather all are effects of climate change, contributing to crop loss, flash floods and wildfires. According to Rob Altenburg, director of the Energy Center at the environmental group PennFuture, the warming climate in the Keystone State poses serious threats to everything from farming to tourism and recreation.

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Study: Much more natural gas is leaking than government inventories suggest

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Laura Legere

June 21, 2018

When fracking in tight shale deposits began to open vast new regions of the United States to oil and gas development at the start of the decade, a question troubled researchers: Just how much of the unearthed gas was leaking on its way from deep wells to delivery points? 

A new article in the journal Science, synthesizing five years of research by more than 140 scientists at 40 institutions, offers the first comprehensive answer on a national scale.

It estimates that the U.S. oil and gas industry emitted 13 million metric tons of methane in 2015 across the supply chain — from new and old wells, pipelines, processing equipment and gas lines beneath city streets.

The lost gas amounts to 2.3 percent of total U.S. gas production — below the leak rate that is generally understood to preserve the climate benefits of burning natural gas for electricity instead of coal, but more than 60 percent higher than the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inventory reports.

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Natural gas could warm the planet as much as coal in the short term

Science Magazine

By Warren Cornwall

June 21, 2018

Natural gas, long promoted as a “clean” alternative to other fossil fuels, may not be so clean after all. That’s because its main ingredient, the potent greenhouse gas methane, has been leaking from oil and gas facilities at far higher rates than governmental regulators claim. A new study finds that in the United States, such leaks have nearly doubled the climate impact of natural gas, causing warming on par with carbon dioxide (CO2)-emitting coal plants for 2 decades. (Methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2 does, but while it does, its warming effect is much stronger.)

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Pennsylvania adopts new controls for cutting methane from shale gas wells

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Laura Legere

June 7, 2018

New shale gas wells in Pennsylvania will have to meet permit conditions that directly control emissions of the greenhouse gas methane for the first time, the Wolf administration announced Thursday as it released final versions of contentious air quality permits that had been under development for two years.

The two general permits will apply to new natural gas wells tapping the Marcellus and Utica shales, and new compression and processing stations built along pipelines. Both permits will go into effect on Aug. 8.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said the permits “are some of the first in the nation to comprehensively address methane emissions from all equipment and processes, and they also address other types of air pollution that contribute to poor air quality.”


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Range Resources shareholders demand review of methane emissions


By Jon Hurdle

May 18, 2018

Shareholders at the natural gas driller Range Resources narrowly approved a resolution this week calling on the company to review its policy on cutting methane emissions in a vote that advocates say is the first to succeed on the methane issue at an energy company that operates in Pennsylvania.

Like other shareholder resolutions, the vote was nonbinding, but may signal growing public pressure on the state’s natural gas industry to curb leaks of the greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.

The resolution, which was opposed by the company, was led by the Unitarian Universalist Association, a church pension fund, and was passed by owners of 50.3 percent of the company’s shares.

It called on Range to report on its actions related to methane emissions management, including efforts to “measure, monitor, mitigate, disclose, utilize leak detection and repair” its methods for cutting emissions.

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The shale industry is letting an important resource go up in smoke | Opinion


By Daniel Doubet

May 22, 2018

Pennsylvania's constitution reads: "The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment." 

Yet, presently, the natural gas extraction industry is literally setting fire to public resources, and deny the public a fair share of resources.

The former Obama administration put in place a rule that requires extractors of methane, oil and gas to capture methane emission, fix leaky equipment to capture the gas and keep it from needlessly escaping into the environment. This does two things: prevents the waste of a limited, public resource and ensures royalties are paid in full to the public.

Additionally, this rule cuts pollution and protects the air we all breathe. 

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Cleaner air takes all of us working together | Opinion


By Dan Grossman

April 21, 2018 

Founded by William Penn and the Society of Friends, Pennsylvania has a long and proud history of collaboration.

After all, the most difficult and important compromises that led to the foundation of our nation were hammered out in Philadelphia. The history of the Commonwealth is replete with examples of collaboration to solve vexing problems. Oil and gas should not be the exception. 

My home state, Colorado, has somewhat less historical ties to collaboration.

After all, the Centennial State was settled by hardscrabble miners who were often quick to quarrel over the boundaries of mining claims and homesteads. Even today, the state is riven with divisions over water resources, residential development, and oil and gas. 

But every once in a while, cooler heads prevail and Coloradans sit down at a table and work through differences in the name of compromise and the greater good.

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