(Harrisburg, Pa. – Dec. 17, 2019) On the heels of what he termed the federal government’s “irresponsible rollback of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Gov. Tom Wolf today took action as his Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented a draft rule to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) that seeks to cut emissions of methane and other harmful pollutants from the state’s unconventional natural gas industry.
A potent greenhouse gas, methane is emitted from thousands of existing sources of natural gas infrastructure across Pennsylvania. Emissions of methane account for a quarter of the global warming we are currently experiencing.
“We congratulate Gov. Wolf and his administration for advancing strong policy to address methane pollution from the state’s natural gas operations,” said Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs, Environmental Defense Fund. “As the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation, Pennsylvania has a responsibility to protect our environment and safeguard families and future generations from this growing pollution threat.
“The good news is that industry is increasingly on board, with companies including Shell and ExxonMobil – both operating in Pennsylvania – now expressing support for methane regulation. Gov. Wolf and his team know that a strong economy and a healthy environment not only can coexist, but are interdependent. We look forward to a constructive rulemaking process that results in strong methane policy that a clear majority of Pennsylvanians support. “
In order to strengthen the draft rule and minimize loopholes and exemptions, DEP should:
- Remove the exemption for low-producing wells that, in aggregate, generate a significant amount of harmful pollution in Pennsylvania; and
- Eliminate the provision that relieves operators of their responsibility to conduct frequent inspections of equipment simply because previous inspections did not reveal significant leaks.
Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases including methane and carbon is essential to meeting the climate commitments laid out by Gov. Wolf as part of Pennsylvania’s participation in the U.S. Climate Alliance.
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