What do 70% of Pennsylvanians agree on? The need to cut methane pollution from the natural gas industry.
Drillers routinely spew harmful methane emissions into our air. Methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas, is carelessly vented, flared, and leaked as part of the drilling and production process. These emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog), which greatly exacerbates asthma attacks in children and lung and heart disease in the elderly. Toxic co-pollutants including benzene, a known carcinogen, are released alongside methane.
Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas with 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after its release into the atmosphere. It's a climate disaster.
It’s also incredibly wasteful. According to the most recent data, oil and gas operators across the country leaked enough gas to meet the heating and cooking needs of nearly every household in Pennsylvania. This waste is unacceptable.
As Pennsylvania has expanded its oil and gas operations, growing to be the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation, so, too, has the problem of oil and gas air pollution grown. No Pennsylvanian should have to sacrifice the health of their family because the gas industry refuses to deal with its pollution problem.
Gov. Tom Wolf showed bold leadership in January when he announced a four-point plan to cut methane pollution from oil and gas operations. His plan includes new and revised permits for new well pads, compressor stations and processing facilities and, more importantly, strong rules for existing unconventional (fracking) oil and gas operations.
The governor's actions are a huge win for the health of Pennsylvania families and the environment. In taking this action, the governor has shown that he will rein in the oil and gas industry, which has been allowed to operate with impunity in Pennsylvania for far too long.
And yet, industry lobbyists wasted no time in crying foul. However, the facts are not on their side:
- Methane emissions are a HUGE problem. A succession of studies point to the fact that actual emissions are far higher than EPA estimates, as much as 90 percent higher in Texas' Barnett Shale. Here in Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection similarly acknowledges that current emissions data is an underestimate.
- The areas where we are seeing methane emissions decline are the ones where strong rules from EPA are already in place.
- Solutions to cut methane emissions are inexpensive and readily available
Methane emissions are a menace to both public health and the environment. Nearly 10,000 Pennsylvanians have called on Wolf to move forward with strong regulations. You can join the fight. Sign up to receive updates for how you can get involved or share your voice in in support of strong rules to cut methane emissions now.